Not a Real Academic

The London School of Economics is having some trouble with Catherine Hakim, a sociologist LSE doesn’t really employ. According to an article by Jack Grove in Times Higher Education:

Scathing reviews of a book encouraging women to cash in on their sex appeal have prompted the London School of Economics to distance itself from the author.

Catherine Hakim’s Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital garnered some hostile reviews after it was published by Allen Lane last month, with many commentators aghast that an LSE sociologist should advocate that women use their sexual assets to get ahead. The book’s title is inspired by the catchphrase used by prostitutes in Jakarta who ask for cash upfront for sex – with women advised to exploit their own “erotic capital” to gain professional success.

It has now emerged that Ms Hakim’s links to the LSE are perhaps looser than had been suggested. Although she is described as a “senior research Fellow of sociology” at the LSE on the book’s dust jacket and in subsequent book reviews… Ms Hakim has not been employed there since 2003.

LSE apparently said icily that “Catherine Hakim was employed as a senior research Fellow at LSE until 2003. Subsequently she had an agreement with LSE that allowed her the use of an office and associated facilities but this arrangement has now ended.”

I haven’t read Hakim’s book and there aren’t exactly issues with freedom of speech or tenure here, but this seems like a little too much worry. Part of the reason LSE helped produce a sociologist like Hakim, who suggests that women advance themselves through erotic means, is because Hakim used her research performed under the auspices of LSE to argue that point.

One wonders why LSE should be so concerned anyway. This is the same institution that apparently had no problem accepting £1.5 million from the Gaddafi family to fund a research center on governance and public policy.

That’s the sort of thing that should embarrass administrators at the school. Employing controversial scholars is just what universities do. That’s a good thing.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer