Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Bonnie Fox on Gender, Caring and Work

Tina Miller, Making Sense of Fatherhood: Gender, Caring and Work. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011, 214 pp. $US 29.99 paper (978-0-521-74301-3), $US 85.00 hardcover (978-0-521-51942-7)

At the heart of feminist scholarship are questions about the obstacles to egalitarian gender relations. The consequences of motherhood for individual women are chief among those obstacles in advanced capitalist countries (although they vary by class, race and location). Motherhood involves 24/7 responsibility that very few fathers (living with women) ever take on, it entails housework, it significantly handicaps women in the labour force, and it often transforms women’s identity. Because parenthood usually moves heterosexual couples to adopt more conventional household patterns, many scholars aiming to assess the extent of gender inequality in families have focused on whether men are sharing housework and child care.      
In Making Sense of Fatherhood, British sociologist Tina Miller explores how fatherhood is changing and whether fathers’ increased “involvement” in infant care represents the “undoing of gender.” Read more

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Momin Rahman on A Short History of Celebrity

Fred Inglis. A Short History of Celebrity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010, 322 pp. $US 29.95 hardcover (978-0-691-13562-5)

Fred Inglis has written a broad historical account of celebrity from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. However, he really ends his discussion in the late 1970s and pays only cursory attention to contemporary forms of celebrity culture.  Therein lies both the central attraction and problem with this book: it provides an eclectic journey through western culture from the era of modernity with interesting illustrative examples but it fails to provide a coherent explanation of celebrity as a category, or how that category has been transformed by the social forces that Inglis describes.  Moreover, his evident disdain for contemporary mass culture, and the related expansion of celebrity culture within it precludes an informative understanding or critique of celebrity in contemporary times. Read more

Review: Victoria Kannen on Love, Sex, and Disability

Sarah Smith Rainey, Love, Sex, and Disability: The Pleasures of Care. Disability in Society. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2011, 197 pp. $US 49.95 hardcover (978-1-58826-777-1)

In Sarah Smith Rainey’s Love, Sex, and Disability: The Pleasures of Care, she invites readers to reimagine notions of intimacy, care-work, and the body. Her text is a study of how dominant (and often problematic) narratives of care and intimacy of disabled/nondisabled couples are circulated in social discourse and the counter-narratives that these couples offer. Using popular culture representations, autobiographical reflections, and the analysis of focus group discussions, Rainey explores the intersections of care and intimacy for partnered relationships where one person is disabled (in the case of this work — physically disabled) and the other (seemingly) nondisabled. Her strategy here is clear: she endeavours to confront stereotypes of victimization and valorization where care and disability intersect in order to disrupt the limited (and often heteronormative) understandings of intimacy and the “able-bodiedness of love.” Read more

Review: Lesley Andres on Transitions from School to Work

Ingrid Schoon and Rainer K. Silbereisen, eds., Transitions from School to Work: Globalization, Individualization, and Patterns of Diversity. The Jacobs Foundation Series on Adolescence. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 408 pp. $US95.00 hardcover (978-0-521-49068-9)

In this edited book, the authors collectively examine the many contours of the transition from school to work. In fact, many chapters go beyond what is suggested in the title by recognizing simultaneous multiple transitions, of which the school-to-work transition is merely one. In the introductory chapter the editors set the tone for the book, offering a “unifying framework for the study of transitions in times of social change.”  Read more

Review: Robert Hiscott on The Changing Canadian Population

Barry Edmonston and Eric Fong, eds., The Changing Canadian Population. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011, 384 pp. $34.95 paper (978-0-7735-3794-1), $95.00 hardcover (978-0-7735-3793-4

The Changing Canadian Population uses secondary analysis of Canadian census data to explore population change. It begins with "Canada’s Population Context," covering patterns of population growth as a function of primary demographic determinants of fertility, mortality and migration, age and sex composition (including patterns in dependency ratios), and trends in the number and size of Canadian households (including housing tenure and affordability). Part 2 examines "Social Stratification" focusing on a range of socio-economic status measures pertaining to education, employment (encompassing participation rates, labour force status, occupation and industry), and income (specifically, the incidence of low income in the Canadian population). Part 3 explores "Population Distribution and Migration" … Read more

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Kevin Walby on New York Hustlers

Barry Reay, New York Hustlers: Masculinity and Sex in Modern America. Encounters: Cultural Histories. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2010, 208pp. $US 35.00 paper (978-0-7190-8008-1), $US 90.00 hardcover (978-0-7190-8007-4)

New York Hustlers is a work of cultural history. Although not explicitly written for them, the book will nonetheless be relevant to sociologists interested in sex and gender, as it explores the “instability” and “untidiness” of categories of sexuality. Empirically, Reay’s book examines paid sex between men in New York during the middle of the twentieth century. More than a foray into sex between men and the slipperiness of labels, this book casts Alfred Kinsey’s research on male sexuality in new light by following one of Kinsey’s key informants: Thomas Painter.   Read more