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Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?

by Katrine Marçal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2698100,649 (3.54)4
"When philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that our actions are motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher to lay the foundations for his "Economic man." He argued that they gave bread and meat for profit, not 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, Smith's economic man has dominated our understanding of modern-day capitalism, Such a viewpoint disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning, and cooking. Essentially, the father of modern economics has based our whole concept of capitalism on a system that ignores half of its participants. ...Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? charts the myth of the economic man, from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table to its adaptation by the Chicago School to its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis."--Jacket flap.… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
An interesting, well reasoned take on economic theory that provides a useful primer on the basics (which I forgot a very long time ago), and then cleverly dissects them to reveal the significant gaps. The central message being that economic theory ignores the value of work done by women and that this (possibly deliberate) oversight means that the theory the world spins on is dangerously flawed.
It’s engagingly written throughout and never gets to heavy even if, like me, you’re not used to reading economics tomes. The feminist slant ends up feeling like common sense rather than a polemic and I can see myself reflecting back on the message in coming weeks and months. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Great in the parts when it addresses the book's advertised point regarding a feminist reading of economic theory, but this covers only around a third of the book with more general economic criticism filling the rest. Interesting enough, if a little 101, but not what I signed up for. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
2.5 stars

This book started off fairly promisingly with a discussion of early economists, the economic man, and why economists love Robinson Crusoe. After a while, though, I found it to get repetitive. Yes, the reasoning surrounding economics and the economic man is circular, but for several chapters we didn't seem to go anywhere and then tiny things were added on like pointing out that all of economic man's traits were traditionally masculine traits and so women were naturally excluded.

The book did have some good points but I'm not sure I got all that much out of it in the end. Your mileage may vary.

I was also reading this while fuzzy-headed and sick (yes, I've progressed to that stage of sickness where reading is possible but a nap if I could manage it might be better for me), so that may have coloured my reading experience. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
I agree with much of the author's criticism of economics. I agree with her that women are still discriminated against. I disagree with her that the concept of homo oeconomicus is to blame for this state of affairs. The entire polemic is based on unsound logic and anachronistic arguments. The German translation is sloppy in parts where the translator didn't check his facts. And I can't help wondering why the German and English publishers chose such sensationalist titles for their translations where the original simply speaks of "The only sex"? ( )
  MissWatson | Aug 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katrine Marçalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vogel, SaskiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Feminism has always been about economics. - Prologue
How do you get your dinner?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"When philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that our actions are motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher to lay the foundations for his "Economic man." He argued that they gave bread and meat for profit, not 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, Smith's economic man has dominated our understanding of modern-day capitalism, Such a viewpoint disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning, and cooking. Essentially, the father of modern economics has based our whole concept of capitalism on a system that ignores half of its participants. ...Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? charts the myth of the economic man, from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table to its adaptation by the Chicago School to its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis."--Jacket flap.

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