Academics can go off the rails as easily as anyone else, but it has been very disappointing to see the path British sociologist Catherine Hakim has taken over the past couple of years.

During her time at the London School of Economics Dr Hakim did some great work on how women in societies such as Britain resolve the conflict between paid jobs and a major investment in family life. She came up with preference theory, which suggested that

women’s choices fall into three main groups: women who prioritise their careers and espouse achievement values (a work-centred lifestyle) and often remain childless by choice (about 20%); women who prioritise family life and sharing values (a home-centred lifestyle) and often have many children and little paid work (about 20%); and the majority of women who seek to combine paid jobs and family work in some way without giving absolute priority to either activity or the accompanying values (the adaptive lifestyle).

This was really useful stuff compared with two recent pop sociology books: Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital (2011), in which she urges women to exploit eroticism in order to get on in life, and her latest effort, The New Rules, in which she takes a hatchet to marriage by singing the praises of adultery.

She likens faithful husbands and wives to “caged animals” and argues that they should be free to explore their “wild side” with lovers without the threat of divorce. Outrageously she claims this would lower divorce rates.

Some quotes from the Telegraph:

“Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal,” she writes.

“The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues.

“Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognise the benefits of a revitalised sex life outside the home.”

You get the picture. It’s quite bizarre, and she has done this “study” under the auspices of a think tank called the Centre for Policy Studies. God help “Broken Britain”, and its children, if this nonsense shapes social policy in that country, where already half of children see their parents split up by the age of 16. 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet