Book Reviews

street prostitution; active listening; autism; history of neuroscience; self-awareness; and quantitative psychological research

Safer Sex in the City: The Experience and Management of Street Prostitution                                                                                          David Canter, Maria Ioannou & Donna Youngs (Eds.)                Ashgate; 2009; Hb £55.00

This volume contains a wide-ranging series of essays that reflect all the confusion and clarity surrounding the regulation of sex work in general and sex as sold on the street in particular. A number of themes recur – the predominance of discourses of morality, dangerousness and control above one of human and civil rights, the counterproductive nature of many policy interventions, and the contested nature not only of the public space in which sexual services are sold, but the intellectual and policy space in which they are theorised and debated. Drawing on material from Canada, the United States, the Netherlands and the UK, the international focus is welcome – if largely confined to the Western industrial world.  

The contributions are well written and document the difficulties of trying to ‘contain’ and ’manage’ sex work whilst giving lip service to the needs of sex workers themselves. Several of the contributors point to the difficulties inherent in such ‘management’ as long as sex work remains under the gaze of the criminal and policing fraternity. In an age of increasing commodification and digital reproduction of human life, commercial sex on the street is in retreat. In tandem with this retreat, however, it is marching simultaneously into the private spaces of the ‘electronic city’ and into the full glare of the public spaces of the high street. In short – as we witness the mainstreaming of sexual consumption, more effective policy alternatives may be to decriminalise the selling of sexual services and position contractual sexual relations in a framework of labour relations set within the broader sphere of the service economy. It is argued that this may in turn produce the advantage of greater safety for sex workers. It is also apparent that such a sea change in policy will not come easily.

As well as mining the sociological territory effectively, the book does not neglect the forensic, utilising empirical data of violence against women to suggest strategies for improving safety. Sadly, if there is one criticism that could be made, it is that the voices of those who sell sexual services for money are largely (though not entirely) absent – as such their presence in these pages tends to be as objects rather than subjects –a paradox in a book that otherwise has much to commend it. There is certainly much here to stimulate further research – work which hopefully will not be suffocated under the moralising gaze and fears of what passes for ethics committees. It should therefore finally be noted that none of the writers were harmed in the making of this book.

Reviewed by Ron Roberts
who is a Senior Lecturer at Kingston University

 

Active Listening for Active Learning                                             Maggie Johnson & Carolyn Player
QEd; 2009; Loose leaf £65.00

The authors are both school-based speech and language therapists. Their new resource is aimed at students aged between four and 12 years who experience difficulties in questioning what they do not understand in a classroom environment. However, its scope may extend far beyond this target audience as many of the activities can be adapted for use with older students.

The loose-leaf ring binder provides sections on identifying language difficulties, listening assessments, linking language to social interaction, concepts of understanding and knowledge, developing clarification skills and maintaining active listening skills. The resource is intended for use with both children in mainstream education as well as those with significant communication difficulties. Each section provides a number of reproducible resources including worksheets, games and activities to aid communication. All have been successfully developed and trialled within both mainstream schools and specialist units. Written with the child in mind, this resource offers fun and accessible tools to reduce barriers to communication within the classroom.

Reviewed by Helen Henshaw
who is a Research Fellow, National Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing, University of Nottingham 


A Hole in the Head: More Tales in the History of Neuroscience Charles G. Gross.                                                                                MIT Press; 2009; Hb £29.95

This handsomely produced volume should be compulsory reading for all students and practitioners in psychology, experimental and clinical neuroscience. Gross gives a broad, fascinating insight into some
of the founders of neuroscience. Chapters include prehistoric attempts at neurosurgery, public and professional education in neuroanatomy
and representations in art.

Of particular interest are the chapters on adult plasticity (‘Altman and Adult Neurogenesis’) and on the understanding of vision (‘The Fire That Comes from the Eye’), which informs of the parallels between naive undergraduate beliefs and early historical understanding. The format is easy-to-read, stand-alone chapters, with few illustrations.

In this centenary of Brodmann’s work on cerebral localisation, psychologists would benefit from these reminders of our not so distant past and the tremendous progress from the time of Ferrier (‘Discovery of Motor Cortex’) to present-day work in neural grafting and enrichment. We should build upon this wealth of hard-won knowledge and expertise in understanding and treating human disorder in all clinical domains.

Reviewed by David A. Johnson
who is a clinical neuropsychologist in Edinburgh


Useful and refreshingAutism in the Early Years:
A Practical Guide (2nd edn)
Val Cumine, Julia Dunlop & Gill Stevenson                               Routledge; 2010; Pb £19.99
This book usefully provides both early-years professionals and parents with an overview of the nature(s) of autism, a guide to its assessment and diagnosis, and then a range of practical strategies that can be used in a variety of settings.

Refreshingly, the book is not based on, nor does it promote,
a particular view of what autism is. Rather, current theories are considered to the extent that they have implications for intervention. The importance of theory, the authors suggest, is that we can never know whether a particular plan for intervention will work; if we have some theory, then we are more able to be creative in revising an unsuccessful plan.

The maze of recent UK legislation regarding early-years education is clearly described and the implications of different strategies for interventions assessed. There is a focus on learning through play, with the proviso that children with autism often have to learn to play, not play to learn.

Ways to manage challenging behaviour are described, with the welcome reminder that teachers (and parents) need to feel a sense
of achievement too.

Reviewed by Chris Baines who is a parent of a child with ASD,
a psychodynamic counsellor, and training as a counselling psychologist


Attend to your bodyThe Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Body Sense
Alan Fogel                                                                                         Norton; 2009; Hb £32.00

At one time or another, we all fail to notice the needs of our own bodies, especially in the demanding modern world. This lost art of body sense could be a significant factor in conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease or hormonal dysfunctions. Regaining our ‘embodied self-awareness’ could provide a means of improving our well-being.

In The Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness, Alan Fogel outlines various aspects of embodied self-awareness (e.g. movements, sensations and emotions), outlining the anatomical, physiological and psychological functions that allow us to focus attention inward, without the mediating influence of judgement and thought. This book provides an overview of the empirical background for a field of study that is not always renowned for its solid scientific foundation. Additionally, experiential exercises and case studies from the author’s experience serve as good practice-oriented illustrations. 

The book provides insight into how being self-aware can help towards improving and maintaining health. Since our bodies are with us wherever we go, we might as well use them as best we can.


Reviewed by Stephan U. Dombrowski who is a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen


A good choiceQuantitative Psychological Research: The Complete Student’s Companion (3rd edn)
David Clark-Carter                                                                      Psychology Press; 2010; Pb £29.95
This weighty tome (around 700 pages including 412 of main text and 258 of appendices) addresses the entire quantitative research process from question conception, through the design and conduct of a study, to the analysis and reporting of results. The content ranges from topics typically encountered in courses for novices to more advanced designs and analyses. The material is organised helpfully for both novices and more experienced readers; the gently paced main text introduces ideas in a clear and intuitive fashion, with associated mathematical details and advanced methods placed in the lengthy appendices, and a detailed index makes it easy to locate specific topics.

Particularly helpful for students are the emphasis on applying statistical tests with care – the book clearly describes assumptions limiting the applicability of tests – and a stand-alone chapter highlighting the limitations of statistical significance and explaining the insights offered by statistical power analysis and effect size.

This is a good choice as a text to take a student through the quantitative elements of their undergraduate or conversion degree and perhaps even further as a bookshelf reference work. However, there are two caveats regarding its claim to completeness. Although the book refers to the capabilities of SPSS, it does not describe the specifics of any statistics software so a second text would be needed. Further, no in-book exercises are provided, and although the cover advertises an online test bank (free and useful), this is only accessible through publisher-registered instructors using the book as an official course text.

Reviewed by Harriet Nock
who holds a computer science PhD and is an Open University psychology student

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