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Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?

a story about women and economics

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A feminist critique of new-liberalism.

How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. It might seem easy, but it is actually very complicated.  When economist and philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, and that the world turns because of financial gain, he laid the foundations for 'economic man’. 

Selfish and cynical, 'economic man' has dominated our thinking ever since – he is the ugly rational heart of modern day capitalism. But, every night, Adam Smith's mother served him his dinner, not out of self-interest, but out of love. Even today, the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning, and cooking is not part of our economic models. All over the world, there are economists who believe that if women are paid less, it’s because their labour is worth less. 

In this engaging, popular look at the mess we're in, Katrine Marçal charts the myth of economic man, from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table, its adaptation by the Chicago School, and, finally its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis  — and invites us to kick out economic man once and for all.

From Publishers Weekly

04 April 2016 – 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.
Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?
View in iTunes
  • $18.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Finance
  • Published: 22 April 2015
  • Publisher: Scribe Publications
  • Seller: Scribe Publications Pty Ltd
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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