We are pleased to announce the winner of the FWSA 2015 Book Prize competition: Alison Phipps. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make the competition a success. Further information about the FWSA Book Prize competition can be accessed online here.

2015: Dr Alison Phipps for ‘The Politics of the Body: Gender in a Neoliberal and Neoconservative Age’

The body is a site of impassioned, fraught and complex debate in the West today. In one political moment, left-wingers, academics and feminists have defended powerful men accused of sex crimes, positioned topless pictures in the tabloids as empowering, and opposed them for sexualizing breasts and undermining their ‘natural’ function. At the same time they have been criticized by extreme-right groups for ignoring honour killings and other ‘culture-based’ forms of violence against women. How can we make sense of this varied terrain?

In this important and challenging new book, Alison Phipps constructs a political sociology of women’s bodies around key debates: sexual violence, gender and Islam, sex work and motherhood. Her analysis uncovers dubious rhetorics and paradoxical allegiances, and contextualizes these within the powerful coalition of neoliberal and neoconservative frameworks. She explores how ‘feminism’ can be caricatured and vilified at both ends of the political spectrum, arguing that Western feminisms are now faced with complex problems of positioning in a world where gender often comes second to other political priorities.

This book provides a welcome investigation into Western politics around women’s bodies, and will be particularly useful to scholars and upper-level students of sociology, political science, gender studies and cultural studies, as well as to anyone interested in how bodies become politicized.


Alison Phipps’ The Politics of the Body: It is a lucid, beautifully written and clear-sighted exploration of some crucial regimes of the public and political articulation of women’s bodies.  I thought that the chapter on Gender and Islam was particularly impressive for its analysis of the problematic nature of a vocal leftist position which has emerged in the period post 9/11; Phipps demonstrates convincingly that this may be as coercive in relation to the intersectional identities of Muslim women as right-wing forms of Islamophobia.  I would say that the arguments of this chapter and those in the final chapter dealing with contemporary ‘regimes of truth’ of reproduction and the maternal body have strong potential for impact well beyond academia. Phipps pulls off the still too rare feat of exploring complex arguments in a democratic and compelling register.

— Judge’s comment

Alison Phipps’ The Politics of the Body: The book covers, really well, theoretical debates in contemporary feminism and applies/illustrates them to a great effect in a way that makes feminism accessible and non-elitist. It is highly accessible, addresses intersectionality, and covers key debates in feminism in the UK.

— Judge’s comment