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Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? : A Story of Women and Economics
by Katrine Marcal and Saskia Vogel


Overview - 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.  Read more...

 
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More About Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? by Katrine Marcal; Saskia Vogel
 
 
 
Overview
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.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781681771427
  • ISBN-10: 168177142X
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books
  • Publish Date: June 2016
  • Page Count: 240
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Business & Economics > Economic History
Books > History > Women
Books > Business & Economics > Economics - Theory

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-04-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

Journalist Marcal won several awards for the original Swedish edition of this book, but the translation, although wittily written, is meandering and slow-paced, making it a tough match for an American audience. Using Adam Smith’s iconic “economic man” as a trope on which to hang her argument, Marcal discusses the appeal of the narrative of the driven, profit-making man, which has left women—whose jobs have only shifted from in-home to out-of-home relatively recently—lagging. She suggests that “maybe the changes achieved by the women’s movement in the last 40 years... have simply highlighted an inherent contradiction in society between care work and competition.” Marcal’s discussion of the economic philosophy behind the gender wage gap and the “broken promises” of feminism is interesting, but the framing device of using historical figures such as Adam Smith (and the person in question who cooked his dinner—Margaret Douglas, his mother) never really gets off the ground. More narrative than prescriptive, more food for thought than fount of answers, this ambitious but too-slim book will have a hard time finding readers outside of the European market. (June)

 
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