Feature: Introducing the ‘Penguin Women Writers’ series: A Q&A with assistant editor Isabel Wall

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/03/2018 - 10:59pm in


Asia, Equality, gender

In February 2018, Penguin launched their new ‘Penguin Women Writers’ series. Featuring four books chosen by the acclaimed authors Penelope Lively and Kamila Shamsie, the series seeks to shine the spotlight on women writers whose work has been hitherto neglected in the UK. To find out more, we spoke to the editor who commissioned the series, Isabel Wall.

This interview is published as part of a March 2018 endeavour, ‘A Month of Our Own: Amplifying Women’s Voices on LSE Review of Books’. If you would like to contribute to the project in this month or beyond, please contact us at Lsereviewofbooks@lse.ac.uk

Image Credit: Penguin Women Writers novels (copyright Penguin/Martha Rich)

Q: What was the impetus behind the ‘Penguin Women Writers’ series and how did you approach Penelope Lively and Kamila Shamsie to choose the four books?

February 2018 marked the centenary of (some) women getting the vote in Britain, and I wanted to celebrate the occasion with a publishing event that would champion books by women writers who had been unfairly neglected. I decided to invite two of our most acclaimed contemporary writers, Penelope Lively and Kamila Shamsie, to choose and introduce two books each. We have published Penelope at Penguin General for many years, so I knew she was someone who regularly supported women’s writing and would bring extensive knowledge and expertise to the series. I was very inspired by Kamila’s piece in the Guardian on making 2018 a year of only publishing women, so she seemed an obvious choice as a passionate advocate for women’s contributions to literature. Both are authors I greatly admire in their own right, and whose endorsement I knew would make a world of difference in attracting new readers to these forgotten gems.

Q: Could you introduce the books that make up the series? Were there any set parameters when it came to Penelope and Kamila’s choices, and did you encounter any practical issues in bringing these particular works (back) into print in the UK?

The Penguin Women Writers series brings together a brilliantly diverse collection of books. Penelope champions the work of Mary McCarthy, the fiercely intelligent and acerbic American writer and activist, whose novel Birds of America explores political issues as relevant today as when it was first written in 1971, from the threat of war to environmental destruction. It’s also a witty account of the strange and surprising nature of growing up, as her teenage protagonist discovers when he leaves America for a thrilling new life in Paris. Penelope’s second choice is a little known novel for adults by the beloved children’s writer E. Nesbit: The Lark, first published in 1922, is an utterly joyful book about two young girls determined to earn a living of their own after their male guardian gambles away their inheritance.

Kamila’s choices introduce readers to writers who are renowned in other parts of the world but barely known here in the UK: Ismat Chughtai and Sara Suleri. Chughtai was India’s most controversial feminist writer who was prosecuted (unsuccessfully) on obscenity charges for daring to write about lesbian love in 1940s India. This is just one of the pieces contained in Lifting the Veil, a wickedly funny collection of short stories and autobiographical fragments that explore female sexuality in a patriarchal world. Suleri’s Meatless Days, first published in 1989, is a searing memoir of life in Pakistan; the sudden death of the author’s mother and sister inspire a profound and heartbreaking meditation on love and grief.

I deliberately gave Penelope and Kamila a very wide remit – to choose two books of any time, place or genre. The only criteria were that they had to be either out of print or out of copyright in the UK, for practical reasons, and happily I was able to acquire rights from the various agents and estates easily once they had both made their choices.

Q: The cover art by Martha Rich is very striking. How did you come to approach her to design the covers for the series?

I knew that I wanted all four covers to be designed by a single female designer, in keeping with my aim of celebrating women’s creativity. And I wanted a very bold, striking and colourful series look – something that demanded attention. Our art director John Hamilton suggested a variety of possible female designers and showed me their portfolios – I was immediately struck by Martha’s playful and exuberant style. Happily Martha agreed to take on the commission and hand-painted every aspect of all four covers.

Image Credit: Penguin Women Writers novels (copyright Penguin/Martha Rich)

 Q: As you mention, the four books were originally published in different eras, countries and languages. How important was it to have this diversity, and would you like the series to contribute to the rediscovery of ‘lost’ or underappreciated works by other women writers around the world?

I’m delighted that the series has such variety – it’s a testament to the extraordinary range of women’s writing that exists, and it challenges our preconceived ideas of, say, what a Muslim woman in 1940s India might be writing about, or how an American woman in the 1970s might portray France or Italy.  I’m particularly pleased to have been able to include a work in translation in this series, as it’s increasingly necessary to read works by authors writing from different cultures and perspectives. And I very much hope that the series will inspire others – both publishers and readers – to seek out other books which may have been unfairly neglected for reasons of prejudice or bias.

Q: While the most recent of the books was written in 1989, Kamila and Penelope have both spoken of their continued resonance in the contemporary moment. Was it important that these works all feel relevant today, rather than being seen as ‘period pieces’? 

I didn’t set out to find books that were necessarily relevant to today’s society, but rather ones which modern readers would still find enjoyable and entertaining. The Lark, for instance, could be called a period piece as it very much focuses on concerns of its day – from the question of women earning their own living to class snobbery – yet it is a book that readers love for its old-fashioned wit and light-hearted charm. Birds of America, though, is remarkable in its portrayal of a teenager troubled by political issues which remain at the forefront of our debates today. And all four authors shared a radical and progressive outlook which feels incredibly relevant to the world we live in now.

Q: You mentioned Kamila’s article in the Guardian and the centenary of some women being given the right to vote in the UK as inspirations. Do you see the series as contributing to debates surrounding gender (and other) imbalances in publishing?

Absolutely – I hope not only to bring attention to the four forgotten gems included in the Penguin Women Writers series, but also to contribute to a conversation around broader issues of equal representation for all: from what is included in the canon, to the importance of championing diverse voices.

Isabel Wall is an assistant editor at Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK. She graduated from the University of Bristol with a first class degree in French and Italian in 2014. She lives in London.

Note: This interview gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. Images are provided courtesy of Penguin and should not be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder. 


Opportunity Doorways For Women (1976)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/03/2018 - 8:24pm in

The Opportunity Doorway scheme for women was launched in 1976. Here's an excerpt from the council's literature:

"Scientific studies conducted by some of the finest minds in the Gentlemen's Science Club of Great Britain clearly show it’s not your fault that you were born female.

But that doesn’t mean you are entirely blameless for your irresponsible birth. Lazing around the house all day looking after infants and cleaning your husband's home is all well and good for a few years. But what happens after that, when you have become redundant?

Enter The Opportunity Doorway scheme, which has been designed specifically for you. It won't dig into your housekeeping allowance and you won’t have to worry about reading anything complicated; however, a head for heights is recommended."

See also: International Women's Day 1970, romance novels, birth, sexual reproduction in females and Bastard Lanes for single mothers.

Book Review: A Brief History of Feminism by Antje Schrupp, illustrated by Patu

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/03/2018 - 11:13pm in

With A Brief History of Feminism, Antje Schrupp and illustrator Patu have crafted a graphic novel that traces the development of feminism from antiquity to the present day. While the book is primarily limited to offering an account of the evolution of European, Western feminist movements, this is nonetheless a fun, accessible and educational read that will give readers a thirst to learn more, finds Sonia J. Wieser

This review is published as part of a March 2018 endeavour, ‘A Month of Our Own: Amplifying Women’s Voices on LSE Review of Books’. If you would like to contribute to the project in this month or beyond, please contact us at Lsereviewofbooks@lse.ac.uk

A Brief History of Feminism. Antje Schrupp, illustrated by Patu (trans. by Sophie Lewis). MIT Press. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

In times of the Women’s March, the #metoo revelations and the subsequent widening of the discussion around women’s rights and gender equality, the sheer number of available texts on the history of the evolution of this movement can be overwhelming. With their collaboration on A Brief History of Feminism, author Antje Schrupp and illustrator Patu have crafted a comprehensive graphic novel that takes the reader on a journey to discover the development of feminism from antiquity to the present day. It will leave you feeling entertained and educated, but at times also angry and definitely thirsting to learn more.

Unlike other books on feminism, this ‘brief’ history does not take women’s struggle to gain the right to vote as its starting point. With the main focus on European, Western feminism, it starts out in antiquity with references to Ancient Greece and the early days of Judeo-Christianity. It continues through the Middle Ages and the first records of women-led community life, early-modern feminism and the feminism of the Enlightenment. While these periods might not offer the widest choice of substantive texts of which it can be said with certainty that they were authored by women, tracing the evolution of feminism alongside that of patriarchy only makes sense.

The chapters become more substantial as the book turns to discuss early socialist feminism, the beginnings of an organised women’s movement, women’s wage labour and the struggle for women’s right to vote. The book continues on to chapters around sex and gender, autonomous women’s movements, and ends by dedicating short sections to intersectionality, queer feminism and third-wave feminism.

Image Credit: (Trishhhh CC by 2.0)

This comprehensive and artfully illustrated view of the history of feminism makes the book a really good read for anyone, no matter whether they are previously acquainted with the movement or not. A reader new to the topic gets an introduction that is fun and conducive to wanting to know more; the reader that is an expert will be delighted to find women ranging from Flora Tristan, who wrote about the oppression of the working class before Karl Marx, to Shulamith Firestone, who argued for the total abolition of the biological family in the 1970s, being placed under the spotlight.

Another incredible strength of this book is that it works with relatively few textual explanations of the illustrations. While the individual chapters offer brief introductions to set the context, most text is limited to the dialogues between the protagonists. This allows for an additional dimension to the story, as facial expressions, colloquial wording and the environment surrounding the speaker underline the content of what is being said. And this is especially important in the context of the oppression of women, as it is often that this is not performed through mere brute force, but more subtle means. For example, the book depicts an exchange between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, in which she questions the maleness of Jesus’s inner circle. Jesus responds, ‘Really, Mary, do you always have to be so negative?,’ while rolling his eyes (2).

While the aforementioned strengths make reading this book a fun and educational experience, the book also comes with certain weaknesses. It lacks a clear guide for the reader as to when the text is paraphrased to fit the style of a graphic novel or when it is directly quoting from a text. Given this, it is also unclear what sources the authors used for their research for their book. While excluding a bibliography or footnotes in the text might have been a conscious decision by the creators to keep the feeling of a graphic novel, it makes it much harder for an interested reader to pursue specific further reading. Furthermore, in times of harsh criticism of ‘feminism’ as a concept and the constant questioning of sources as ‘fake news’, a book may fare better if it is clearly shown on what basis it was written.

A space within the book that would be conducive for this guidance would be the introductory text. Already offering a great explanation of why the history of feminism matters and what it has to do with patriarchy, it also provides an opportunity for the authors to delve deeper into how to read the book and their thoughts on the sources. In so doing, they could also connect the introduction to the rest of the book more than is currently done.

A further point of criticism that could arise is the text’s sole focus on European, Western feminism. Some context to this lies in the somewhat limited translation of the title: in its original German version, the book is explicitly called ‘A Brief History of Feminism in the Euro-American Context’; this is reduced to only ‘A Brief History of Feminism’ in the English translation, which could lead a reader to expect equal treatment of all women’s movements across the globe. The authors do, however, make the limited scope of the book fairly clear in the introduction of the book. Furthermore, various chapters touch upon the fact that European, Western feminism is not the only important movement: as such, the book briefly discusses intra-feminist socio-economic divisions, mentions intersectionality and nods to further exploration of third-wave feminism.

Again, the graphic novel adds a layer here: the intra-feminist divide along socio-economic lines is underlined by images depicting women of colour speaking up against the dominance of white women in the agenda-setting of feminist movements. The authors furthermore try to be as fair to the topics as possible: as such, they do mention that when discussing intersectionality, one has to pay close attention to the cultural context in which the discussion is founded. For example, they mention that due to the history of the civil rights movement in the US, the interplay between race and gender looks different in the US-North American context than, for example, in Europe. However, in the end, while the authors try their best to include various feminist movements and clearly mention the scope of the book, it is still a limitation – and one that one would wish was less prevalent in books about feminism in general.

Overall, while this book is restricted to European, Western feminism and arguably lacks some signposting for the reader, it is still strongly recommended to anyone who wants to know more about where some of the ongoing struggles in the name of feminism are rooted. Its style makes it an easy introductory read for those newly interested in the topic and enjoyable for those who already know a bit more. One can only wish that further editions including other elements of the history of feminism will be published, so that the pleasure of reading works by Schrupp and Patu is prolonged.

Sonia J. Wieser is a graduate in MSc International Relations from the LSE and works at the intersection of finance and technology. She particularly enjoys reading and reviewing books about feminism and gender studies, critical approaches to work and technology as well as anything related to Russia and India. Read more by Sonia J. Wieser.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Book Review: The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/02/2018 - 10:50pm in

In The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Walter Scheidel offers an account of how ‘Four Horsemen’ – warfare; revolution; state collapse; and pandemics – have been the primary mode through which income levelling has occurred throughout history. While this is a key contribution to the study of inequality, Roberto Iacono hopes it will inspire scholars to highlight alternative paths and interpretations based on peaceful levelling. 

If you are interested in this review, you may like to listen to a recording of Water Scheidel’s lecture, ‘The Great Leveler’, recorded at the LSE on 27 November 2017. 

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Walter Scheidel. Princeton University Press. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

In the last few years, the most authoritative authors in the economic and social sciences have fiercely competed to provide new ways of interpreting the long-run waves of inequality, highlighting, for instance, the role of capital and top incomes and changes in preferences for redistribution (see, among others, Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Branko Milanovic).

Walter Scheidel adds himself to this group of leading academics in an exemplary way with The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, drawing upon the most dramatic historical examples of wealth and income levelling (i.e. reductions in the degree of inequality in the distribution) all the way from hunter-gatherer societies to the present. The grounds for picking such a long analytical timespan appear more a strength than a weakness in the book, which provides a largely coherent amount of detailed historical evidence.

Scheidel’s main thesis unfolds as follows: deep and long-lasting levelling of both the absolute and relative degree of income and wealth inequality has found its place primarily in conjunction with the ‘Four Horsemen’ of levelling: namely, mass mobilisation warfare; transformative revolutions (such as communism); state collapse; and plague and pandemic episodes.

All of these have acted mainly in one direction with the remuneration to labour increasing or at least keeping constant its share, on the one hand, whilst reducing, on the other hand, the remuneration to capital and landholders. Mass mobilisation warfare made levelling a natural consequence of unexpected state tax collection and active interventions in the economy in order to sustain war expenses. Transformative revolutions in China and the Soviet Union led to dramatic levelling consequences for local populations, although based on ideological motives rather than war. The examples of state collapse provided in the book coherently show that top income earners and rentiers had most to lose from the disruption of established political and economic structures, whether authoritarian or democratic. Finally, episodes such as the European Black Death of the mid-1300s are shown to act mostly on the demographic structures underlying income and wealth distribution, with important consequences in terms of the shortage of workers resulting in higher labour wages.

Image Credit: (david pacey CC BY 2.0)

The most innovative, and to some extent debatable, of the author’s arguments are related to Part II of the book on mass mobilisation warfare and its effects in terms of income levelling. Scheidel claims that the two World Wars stand as the single ultimate cause of levelling in the twentieth century, both within the war periods but also long afterwards due to their political and economic consequences. The book provides a detailed account of the Japanese example in terms of its preparations for the war, where government regulation and interventions in the productive structures of the economy (previously governed by the so-called zaibatsu system of business conglomerates) not only reduced incomes from capital directly, but also resulted in galloping inflation, permanently flattening income distribution.

Scheidel shows as well that for most European and Western countries, declines in top income shares (the share of total income received by the population at the very top of the income distribution) were undoubtedly more significant in the war periods than in the post-war era (Table 5.2, 135-36). This evidence is not only used to support the thesis that mass mobilisation has indeed been one of the four horsemen of levelling, but it also contributes to the claim that post-war peaceful levelling of a similar magnitude would not have been possible without the dramatic events of conflict. This is further explained through the reasoning that major war mobilisation paved the way, in terms of increased taxation and expanded fiscal expenses, for the subsequent expansion of the welfare state (the example of the social democratic party budget proposals of 1947-48 in Sweden is highlighted on page 163).

This last argument leads to one critique that can be directed at the principal thesis of the book: explaining reductions in inequality mainly through violent levelling episodes does not leave scope for the positive examples of autonomous and peaceful levelling based on democratic policymaking that history has also shown us. A recent counterargument to Scheidel’s thesis comes, for instance, from Erik Bengtsson et al (2017), which demonstrates that inequality decreased significantly in Finland mainly due to inclusive growth from 1850 to 1900 in the absence of both disasters and wars. Another example of falling inequality in pre-war peaceful times is that of Norway from 1892 to 1914, as documented by Rolf Aaberge et al (2017).

In addition, in Chapter Five, Scheidel admits that unionisation has indeed been a peaceful levelling force in history and, more precisely, in the post-World War II era. However, he claims that ‘war mobilization was also instrumental in promoting labor unionization’ (165), adding a couple of examples from the UK and the USA. I regard this argument as lacking a broader cross-country justification, as unionisation in post-war Denmark, Sweden and Norway has, for instance, to a large extent been deemed endogenous to working life developments, rather than depending on external factors such as the war, as documented in Francis Sejerstad (2011).

In conclusion, even if it is true that peaceful levelling has been an exceedingly rarer phenomenon than violent levelling in history, this is not in itself a reason to claim that violent levelling is unfortunately the unique way through which a reduction in inequality can or should be sought. Even gradual reductions in income and wealth inequalities, as in the example by Bengtsson et al for Finland, can lead to decent amounts of levelling if social policies are sustained over a longer timespan. This remark on the role of ‘benign forces’ has been emphasised recently by another leading inequality scholar, Milanovic, who claimed in his book Global Inequality that ‘awareness of the destructive nature of increasing inequality and knowledge of the benign means to reduce it – make one optimistic that a peaceful process of decreasing global inequality could be managed in this century’ (103).

Overall, Scheidel’s book can without doubt be deemed a key contribution to the interdisciplinary field of inequality studies in the economic and social sciences, with its overview of the most dramatic episodes of income levelling throughout the centuries and across the globe. More importantly, Scheidel sapiently knits these episodes together in order to highlight the dominant role of the ‘Four Horsemen of levelling’. It is now up to scholars in the field of economic and social policy to highlight alternative paths and historical interpretations based on peaceful levelling, in order to provide policymakers with viable policies to counteract the uncomfortable thesis that ‘violent’ levelling has been and will remain the leading force of inequality reduction in our societies.

Roberto Iacono is an Associate Professor in Economics and Social Policy at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). His latest research is at the intersection between Public Economics, Labor Economics and Political Economy, with a focus on policy-relevant questions related to the «Nordic model» of economic development and welfare. Roberto Iacono is also a coordinator of the Young Scholar Initiative (YSI) working group on Political Economy of Europe of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

The Paradox Of Equal Justice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/02/2018 - 2:00am in


Equality, Justice

Almost every day, entertainment, sports, media, political and even some business organizations are jettisoning their top officials and incumbents after reported accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assaults of their subordinates. They’re not waiting for prosecutors, courts or regulators to take action. “Get out now” is the first punishing order. Then the work product of these asserted offenders—whether music, comedy shows, etc.—are often scrubbed, and recipients of political contributions are under pressure to give these sums to charity. In addition a wider arc of resignations by the heads and Boards of Directors, accused of lax monitoring is emerging. The speed of punishment is unprecedented. One day millions of people watched Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and others.

Book Review: Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart edited by Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 10:21pm in

In Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart, editors Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow make a compelling moral case for the social sciences to challenge the prevailing neoliberal climate based around profit-making and individualism. The book’s central message — that the notion of the social needs to be reclaimed and restored for a better society — makes this a relevant and timely addition to the literature on social justice, recommends Olumide Adisa

Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling ApartRowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow (eds). Policy Press. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

This new book from a collection of social scientists, edited by Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow, presents critical arguments for what is needed to make society better. Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart has a simple message—being in favour of the social (‘prosocial’) means valuing communal bonds not as mere connections, but rather as mechanisms through which we can attain development and fulfil our potential together. No doubt, the perspective of the book will be intriguing to anyone that is for society, but it also begs the question: do we need another book on social justice? The answer seems to be yes. The text largely makes a compelling case for the betterment of society and charts a credible way forward for how we might best achieve this.

In setting the context, the accounts in this book paint a rather depressing picture of inequality in contemporary British society: low-income households have been hardest hit by government cuts to services and the social welfare structures associated with the fabric of a tolerant Britain will become a thing of the past—indeed, the introductory section of the book appears to suggest that they already have.

Building Better Societies takes an unapologetic stance against neoliberalism—in short, neoliberalism is largely to blame for all our troubles. But the book also makes a moral case for social scientists to care again: to be bold and courageous in our ideas that may often be at odds with a climate of profit-making, individualism and careerism. It positions itself as the sociologist’s conscience in a world of social science that has become more commercialised and less in touch with proposing solutions for those who are marginalised.

The book is divided into three parts—problems, ideas and futures—with the three editors writing the first and last chapters to underpin the main purpose of the book and to conclude it, respectively. The book includes a brief historic account of how contemporary British society has descended to its current depths. It traces a journey from a post-war social-democratic era (where collaboration and community were celebrated in the development of a welfare state that saw a generation enjoying security, stability and togetherness) to a period of marketisation that has led to the erosion of a caring welfare system.

Image Credit: (Quinn Dombrowski CC BY SA 2.0)

In my view, the strongest chapters are Chapter One by the three editors, which makes a splendid case for the prosocial movement, and Chapter Two, authored by Iain Wilkinson, which critiques C. Wright Mills’s ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and makes a case for Jane Addams’s ‘Doing Sociology’. Here, Wilkinson asks ‘how should sociology hold public relevance?’ and sets the scene by presenting statistics on inequalities. He further argues that sociology has lost sight of ‘social’ questions and has become ‘morally neutralised’. As a result, the impact and sway that sociology holds, particularly in caregiving settings, have been limited. In Wilkinson’s mind, political activism ought to be better entrenched within public sociology.

The prosocial argument is further contextualised in Chapter Four authored by Mckenzie. The author makes a compelling argument that social goods, such as education, social housing, state pensions and child benefits, have always been important to working-class people. But with neoliberalism, gains from the post-war consensus have been rolled back and these social goods are no longer guaranteed for those at the bottom of society.

Chapter Seven by Deborah Warr, Gretel Taylor and Richard Williams is a pleasure to read in its discussion of creative practice as a way of examining issues prosocially and embedding them within research designs. Drawing on their research on arts-based activities in low-income neighbourhoods, the authors demonstrate an innovative way of doing social research that combines sociology with creative practice. Similarly, Chapter Eight by Kate Pahl and Paul Ward further builds on the prosocial ethics agenda by exploring ways in which co-producing research with local communities ensures that community knowledge is embedded within social research designs: this can help foster social inclusion and a greater understanding of the diversity within communities.

The book does not present itself as an objective critique but rather as a useful reminder that we need not separate our passionate selves from doing good public sociology and that adhering solely to strict academic conventions stifles our voices as social researchers. By doing so, the narratives in the book are largely inclusive and accessible.

To conclude, the book’s prosocial arguments are primarily built on moral grounds. To the converted, this book is a balm to the moral soul of sociology. And to the sceptics, dare I say hard-core neoliberals, the book’s dependence on morality to drive home its points could be misunderstood. The extent to which the ideas in this book can gain traction is greatly dependent on how quickly our society recalibrates itself to reconnect with values that foster collaborative human behaviour. When one takes a cursory view of recent political events that are dangerously shaping how we treat each other and social values, this book is relevant because it offers a different way of thinking and a simple message—that the notion of the social needs to be reclaimed and restored if we are to have a better society. This book is a well-timed addition to the social justice discourse and should be read by everyone.

Dr Olumide Adisa is a Research Associate at the University of Suffolk. She is an economist and sociologist and her cross-disciplinary research experience straddles both disciplines. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, she undertakes qualitative and quantitative research around welfare issues affecting vulnerable groups. She also teaches and contributes to research methodology courses. Twitter: @docadisa

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

The University of the Living Dead: zombie leadership is alive (?) and well

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/08/2017 - 9:02am in



The iconic film maker George A. Romero died recently. Stella Jones-Devitt argues that his zombie films, which aimed to satirise consumerism, racism and other social concerns, have parallels with present-day higher education.

The post The University of the Living Dead: zombie leadership is alive (?) and well appeared first on Wonkhe.

Diversity troubles – comprehensive solutions to HE’s racial segregation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/08/2017 - 9:01am in

Sol Gamsu and Michael Donnelly examine the geography of ethnicity and higher education in the UK and argue that a comprehensive university system may hold some of the answers.

The post Diversity troubles – comprehensive solutions to HE’s racial segregation appeared first on Wonkhe.

Universities’ shame – unpicking the black attainment gap

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/08/2017 - 9:01am in


Equality, race

Nona Buckley Irvine looks at the available data on race and student attainment, which shows shocking attainment gaps between black and white students in many universities across the UK.

The post Universities’ shame – unpicking the black attainment gap appeared first on Wonkhe.

Complexity in our multiple identities: the 2017 Disability Lecture

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/07/2017 - 11:45pm in

University of Oxford Annual Disability Lecture