Scoop Review of Books

Archive for March, 2017

Q&A: Prue Hyman on ‘Hopes Dashed?’

Q & A | BWB Texts
For Scoop Review of Books, Alison McCulloch interviewed Prue Hyman about her new book, part of the BWB Texts series, Hopes Dashed? The Economics of Gender Inequality


bwb7760_text_cover_hopesdashed_highresSRB: Can you start by giving me a brief biography, with respect to your background in gender inequality issues?

Prue: I taught feminist economics and economics generally, but specialising in feminist economics, where I could, at Victoria University for many years. I worked for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for two years on secondment. That, obviously gave me a background in feminist economics and on a couple of sabbaticals, I worked with people who were working in the field and just gradually read and wrote about it myself.

SRB:    So how did this book come about now?

Prue:    Bridget Williams did a book edited by Max Rashbrooke, called “Inequality” (click here for the SRB review) and it had very little gender stuff in it to my surprise, because it’s still one of the major aspects of inequality. And she got me to have a look at the small amount there was in there, and I said it was all right as far as it went, but it wasn’t detailed enough. Bridget Williams published my earlier book in 1994, “Women in Economics: A New Zealand Feminist Perspective,” and we agreed I’d do an update essentially for the Texts series.

SRB:    Early in the book, you briefly mention the state of feminism today and have some positive things to say, including about the commitment of many younger women and the diverse issues they’re active in, including rape culture, body image, unionism, anti-racism and more. But I wonder, given your focus on gender inequality, do you distinguish among the kinds of feminism? In particular, between, for example, so-called “choice feminism” or “neoliberal feminism”, which is perhaps less focused on women as an oppressed class than on women’s individual identities and choices?

Prue:    To me “choice feminism” or “neoliberal feminism” is almost a contradiction in terms. I think it’s an abuse of the term feminism and I think it’s unfortunate that some modern women who get prominence, that that’s all they mean by feminism, because to me, feminism is about women as a class, and not only about women as a class — I must use a broad term, but it can’t be a feminism of the type I’m writing about and keen on without also dealing with the intersections, i.e. race and class and disability and all the rest. At times, I think, ‘well, I’m less concerned with all women than I used to be.’ It’s really the women who are most disadvantaged by other facets that I care about most. Read more »

We’re All Lab Rats

Book Review
The Cyber Effect: A pioneering cyberpsychologist explains how human behaviour changes online
by Mary Aiken (Hachette, $55)
Reviewed by Alex Beattie

CyberHB_final 1507.inddA couple of years ago, there were reports that Silicon Valley executives were sending their children to tech-free schools.  It was a story that dripped of irony: geeks in the heart of techno-utopia rejecting their ideology when it came to their own kids. But the story didn’t catch on, and an awkward question lingered.  Why were the engineers of the future desperate to part their gadgets from their children?

Dr Mary Aiken offers and answer in her debut book, The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behaviour Changes Online.  And it’s something every parent should be interested in.

Yes, cyberpsychology is real and not a sci-fi subgenre. It’s an emerging field of psychology that specialises in studying the impact of emerging technologies on human behaviour. Aiken is arguably its most famous practitioner.

We’re all lab rats

According to Aiken, the Internet is the greatest unregulated social experiment of our time. We know of the perks: unbridled information access, crowdsourcing and accountability to the masses. But what we lack is an understanding of the problems and associated pathologies.

Aiken compares the digital experience to getting drunk. It’s fun, sometimes raucous – when our attention is online, we lose our inhibition. We are careless about the places we visit, what we say and who we engage with. But unlike a boozy blow-out, an evening online lingers. The digital hang-over doesn’t pass but is crystallized in HTML code. It gets worse.

Read more »

Release: 2017 Ockham Awards Shortlist

2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Shortlist Announced

Four of the country’s most respected novelists are in the running for New Zealand’s richest fiction writing prize with today’s announcement of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist.

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize 2017 Shortlist

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize 2017 Shortlist

Commonwealth Prize-winning novelist Catherine Chidgey’s The Wish Child is one of the contenders for the $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, as are multi-award winning writer Owen Marshall’s Love as a Stranger, critic, poet and novelist C.K. Stead’s The Name on the Door is Not Mine, and critically acclaimed poet and novelist Emma Neale’s Billy Bird.

The prize, now in its second year, is awarded through the generosity of one of the Acorn Foundation’s donors.

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize judges’ convenor, Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb, says all four finalists demonstrate compelling writing, surprising plots, sudden poignancies, sharp humour and beautifully observed characters. “These are the books that we loved, that provoked, that excited us, and that we are still thinking about.” Read more »