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Interesting if overlong account of a changing world
on 14 May 2013
Wolf has an interesting and well argued thesis: the world has changed and for the top quintile of the population men and women lead similar lives. They go to the sane schools do the same jobs, work the same amounts, mate with the people from the same background and invest heavily in a small number of children born relatively late in life. They are also rich enough to hire servants drawn from the other 80 per cent of the population - female servants.
This is backed up with some heavy duty research - there are a lot of notes here - and it is both persuasive and surprising. We think life is not like this, says Wolf - because we read about the super rich for whom life is different again for women: more children younger and a life of administering the family properties. In this area there seems to be some elision in Wolf's thinking. She talks a good deal about family dynasties in politics in India and Pakistan and so and in big business of all kinds including Playboy. This presumably is not top quintile material - but is super rich. And in the historical sections, we hear about charity work, but also about running houses of ill repute and so in. Here too a clearer sense of who did what and why would be welcome.
Nonetheless I would recommend it strongly - not least for its explanation of the scruffy dress of academics. Apparently there's no need for display through clothes when your publications can do the job for you...