Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE PRICE YOU PAY by Margaret Randall


The Hidden Cost of Women's Relationship to Money

by Margaret Randall

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1996
ISBN: 0-415-91203-2
Publisher: Routledge

 Randall, a writer, photographer, and political activist, gambles big by attempting to tackle such an inherently complex topic as money. She starts strong by approaching the subject from a feminist perspective, but her research methods are questionable. She distributed over 800 questionnaires but saw a return rate of only 11 percent, and she offers no explanation of the study's inclusion criteria. And her tendencies toward essentialism and generalities about women obscure any potential findings. What the author does find is that most little girls carry a great deal of shame into their adult lives, especially centered on the guilt of believing they ``cost too much.'' This particular discussion would benefit from the inclusion of boys in the analysis, since their relationships to money are also unexplored, and presumably boys also represent an economic burden to their parents. Randall explores the concept of ``gifting'': excessive giving, usually representing power. Again, however, the critical elements of her analysis are spread throughout the text, making it difficult for the reader to clearly determine Randall's meaning. Her suggestion that women are more prone to gifting to express love is not substantiated by any empirical evidence. She does little to relate her many pages of engaging ethnographic excerpts to larger theoretical issues about money, virtually ignoring the vast literature already touching on the subject. Her digression in the final chapter into personal family details of incest, abuse, and financial accounting detracts from what promised to be a more rigorous project. Although Randall opens the door to understanding the significant relationships women have with money, she fails to cross the threshold into serious analysis.