Catherine Hakim

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Catherine Hakim
Born (1948-05-30) 30 May 1948 (age 71)
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Academic work
Sub-disciplinePreference theory, erotic capital
InstitutionsInstitute for the Study of Civil Society, Centre for Policy Studies, London School of Economics (1990–2011), ESRC Data Archive, Department of Employment

Catherine Hakim (born 30 May 1948)[1] is a British sociologist who specialises in women's employment and women's issues. Her development and publishment of the "preference theory" and "sex-deficit theory" has groundbreaking implications on modern women's empowerment issues.[2] She is currently a Professorial Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Civil Society (Civitas), and has formerly worked in British central government and been a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and the Centre for Policy Studies. She has also been a Visiting Professor at the Social Science Research Center Berlin.


Hakim grew up in the Middle East and moved to the United Kingdom at age 16.[3][4]

Career and work[edit]

Hakim has published extensively on labour market topics, women's employment, sex discrimination, social and family policy, as well as social statistics and research design.[5] She has published over 100 articles in academic journals and edited collections, and over a dozen textbooks and research monographs. She is best known for developing preference theory[6] and her criticism of many feminist assumptions about women's employment. Her most recent books develop a theory of "erotic capital".[2][7][3] and its power in all social interaction, in the workplace, politics and in public life generally as well as in the invisible negotiations of private relationships.

Hakim is a member of the editorial boards of the European Sociological Review and International Sociology.[8]

She has been Principal Research Officer in the Department of Employment's Social Science Branch for ten years and Director of the ESRC Data Archive from 1989 to 1990. Hakim was a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics between 1990 and 2003, when she chose to resign from this position. However, she continued to be affiliated with the institution where she still had an office, and was listed both as a visiting scholar and as a senior research fellow at the institution's website until 2011.[8][9][10]

The Idea of Erotic Capital[edit]

Catherine Hakim's Perspective[edit]

Catherine Hakim states that erotic capital is an asset in many social and economic settings such as media and politics.[11] This theory added erotic as an additional form of capital to Pierre Bourdieu's concept of society being run by four main types of capita - cultural, social, symbolic, and economic. Hakim defined erotic capital as the concept that an individual's beauty, sexual attractiveness, enhanced social interaction, liveliness, social presentation, sexuality, and fertility can provide opportunities to advance in life.[12] According to Hakim, the most important and most controversial of these seven components would be sexual attractiveness, as her studies indicated that family men tend to crave sex more than women, a phenomena she named the male sex deficit. She encouraged young women to use this asset to earn a more respectable position in society.[11] Hakim believes that erotic capital has gone unacknowledged for far too long and that the patriarchal society and moral constraints of conservative communities have caused the idea of beauty and attractiveness to stress the importance of personality, not giving enough credit to physique.[13] She doesn't encourage a society based on solely erotic capital but rather states that it plays a subconscious role in daily life decisions, such as career offerings, enrichment opportunities, and social networking.[14] For example, she places current dating apps and social media on the spotlight, stating that the internet has created somewhat of a digitized version of dating and that these markets will gain traction as time goes on. She strongly believes that these sites and the decision of marriage are driven by a woman's erotic capital and a man's economic capital.[15]


Many groups such as feminists have actively rejected the idea of erotic capital by stating that the sex positive movement highlights the rights of women in only a manner that highlights advantages and ignores contradictory research that has shown that attractive women are less likely to receive a promotion.[16][14] Many sociologists assert that Bourdieu had already stated this phenomenon is not a capital but a mere search for recognition and a drive of socialized desire from fellow peers, family, and friends.[17] Bourdieu's followers have also asserted that he had developed the idea of 'body capital' long ago but refused to include in his general capita because it was too intertwined with economic capital. For example, if a woman from a high socioeconomic status could buy beauty products and afford body shaping surgeries, she would be able to change her body capital.[18]

Sex deficit[edit]

In 2017, Hakim was accused of misogyny after publishing an article which suggested women are to blame for sexual assault.[19] The article bases its argument on a research paper published in 2015[20] which evaluated 30 sex surveys globally and claimed that, since the 1960s sexual revolution, women’s sexual motivation and interest has decreased, causing what Hakim calls a “male sexual deficit”. This, it is argued, can help explain why sexual harassment, sexual violence, rape, rising demand for commercial sexual services and other behaviours are almost exclusively male. She has argued that the sex deficit also derives from men naturally having a higher sex drive than women.[21]


Selected books[edit]

  • Secondary analysis in social research, London : Allen & Unwin, 1982, ISBN 0-04-312015-6, ISBN 0-04-312016-4
  • Social Change and Innovation in the Labour Market: Evidence from the Census SARs on Occupational Segregation and Labour Mobility, Part-Time Work and Student Jobs, Homework and Self-Employment (Oxford University Press, 1998). ISBN 0-19-829381-X
  • Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century: Preference Theory (Oxford University Press, 2000). With a Preface by Anthony Giddens. ISBN 0-19-924210-0
  • Research Design: Successful Designs for Social and Economic Research (Routledge, 2000). ISBN 978-0-415-22312-6
  • Models of the Family in Modern Societies: Ideals and Realities (Ashgate, 2003). ISBN 0-7546-4406-5
  • Key Issues in Women's Work (Glasshouse Press, 1996, 2004). ISBN 1-904385-16-8
  • Modelos de Familia en las Sociedades Modernas: Ideales y Realidades (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 2005). ISBN 978-84-7476-378-2
  • Little Britons: Financing Childcare Choice (Policy Exchange, 2008), with Karen Bradley, Emily Price and Louisa Mitchell. ISBN 978-1-906097-21-9
  • Honey money: why attractiveness is the key to success. London: Penguin. 2012. ISBN 9780241952214.

Selected articles[edit]


  1. ^ "Sociolog: Smukke kvinder undertrykkes i Skandinavien". Berlingske Tidende. 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Spicer, Kate (17 April 2010). "Catherine Hakim: She's counting up erotic capital". The Times. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b Arndt, Bettina (7 February 2003). "Hakim works on fertile ground". The Age. Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Catherine Hakim: Erotisches Kapital (book review)". Perlentaucher.
  5. ^ "Speakers". Why Workplace Flexibility Matters. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  6. ^ Rabušic, Ladislav; Chromková Manea, Beatrice-Elena (2007). "Hakim's preference theory in the Czech context". Czech Demography. Czech Statistical Office. 2: 46–55. Republished in 2008, volume 2, pdf.
  7. ^ Walden, Celia (14 April 2010). "Erotic capital". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Who's who". London School of Economics. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Profiles – Directors of the UK Data Archive". UK Data Archive. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  10. ^ Grove, Jack (22 September 2011). "Honey Money not to LSE's Taste". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  11. ^ a b Hakim, Catherine (1 October 2010). "Erotic Capital". European Sociological Review. 26 (5): 499–518. doi:10.1093/esr/jcq014. ISSN 0266-7215.
  12. ^ Warhurst, Chris (2012). "Review of Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital". Work, Employment & Society. 26 (6): 1036–1038. doi:10.1177/0950017012468303. JSTOR 43495562.
  13. ^ DLDconference (15 April 2013), DLDwomen 2010 - Erotic Capital (Catherine Hakim, Jacob Burda), retrieved 17 March 2018
  14. ^ a b Hakim, Catherine (3 September 2011). "The Untapped Power of Erotic Capital". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  15. ^ Hakim, Catherine (1 May 2017). "PL-32 Sexual Markets and Erotic Capital in the 21st Century: The Impact of the Internet". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 14 (5): e220. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.04.103. ISSN 1743-6095.
  16. ^ Catherine., Hakim (6 September 2011). Erotic capital : the power of attraction in the boardroom and the bedroom. New York. p. 499. ISBN 9780465027477. OCLC 701015484.
  17. ^ Aarseth, Helene (February 2016). "Eros in the Field? Bourdieu's Double Account of Socialized Desire". The Sociological Review. 64: 93–109. doi:10.1111/1467-954X.12348.
  18. ^ Sarpila, O. (1 June 2014). "Attitudes Towards Performing and Developing Erotic Capital in Consumer Culture". European Sociological Review. 30 (3): 302–314. doi:10.1093/esr/jct037. ISSN 0266-7215.
  19. ^ Bates, Laura (21 February 2017). "No, wives 'withholding sex' are not to blame for male violence". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  20. ^ Hakim, Catherine (May 2015). "The male sexual deficit: a social fact of the 21st century". International Sociology. 30 (3): 314–335. doi:10.1177/0268580915569090. Pdf.
  21. ^ Daubney, Martin (10 August 2015). "Meet the academic who thinks prostitution should be legalised because men need more sex". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 July 2017.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Howard Newby
Director of the ESRC Data Archive
Succeeded by
Denise Lievesley