Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story About Women and Economics

Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story About Women and Economics

by Katrine Marcal


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A funny, clever, and thought-provoking examination of the myth of the "economic man" and its impact on the global economy

How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. When economist and philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher as he laid the foundations for 'economic man.' He argued that the baker and butcher didn't give bread and meat out of the goodness of their hearts. It's an ironic point of view coming from a bachelor who lived with his mother for most of his life — a woman who cooked his dinner every night.

Nevertheless, the economic man has dominated our understanding of modern-day capitalism, with a focus on self-interest and the exclusion of all other motivations. Such a view point disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking. It insists that if women are paid less, then that's because their labor is worth less. Economics has told us a story about how the world works and we have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. This story has not served women well. Now it's time to change it.

A kind of femininst Freakonomics, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? charts the myth of economic man — from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table, its adaptation by the Chicago School, and its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis — in a witty and courageous dismantling of one of the biggest myths of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681771427
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Katrine Marçalis a journalist for the Swedish newspaperDagens Nyheter, where she writes about economics, finance and politics. She lives in a village north of London.

Table of Contents

Preface to the American Edition v

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 In which we climb into the world of economics and ask ourselves who Adam Smiths mother was 7

Chapter 2 In which we are introduced to economic man and realize that he is incredibly seductive 18

Chapter 3 In which it becomes apparent that economic man is not a woman 29

Chapter 4 In which we see that our pact with economic man isn't turning out as we had expected 42

Chapter 5 In which we add women and stir 56

Chapter 6 In which Las Vegas and Wall Street merge 68

Chapter 7 In which the global economy goes to hell 80

Chapter 8 In which we see that men are also not like economic man 94

Chapter 9 In which economic incentives aren't shown to be as uncomplicated as we might think 105

Chapter 10 In which we see that you aren't selfish just because you want more money 116

Chapter 11 In which we see that a negative number is still zero 126

Chapter 12 In which we all become entrepreneurs 139

Chapter 13 In which we see that the uterus isn't a space capsule 148

Chapter 14 In which we discover economic man's unforeseen depths and fears 157

Chapter 15 In which we see that the greatest story of our time only has one sex 170

Chapter 16 In which we will see that every society suffers in line with its bullshit. And we say goodbye. 179

Epilogue 190

Notes 198

Bibliography 217

Credits 228

Index of Persons 229

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