Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?
Written by Katrine Marçal
Publication Date May 02, 2015
How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. It might seem easy, but it is actually very complicated.
When Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest and the world turned because of financial gain he laid the foundations for 'economic man'. Selfish and cynical, 'economic man' has dominated our thinking ever since, 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, then that'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 to its adaptation by the Chicago School and finally its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
KATRINE MARÇAL is the lead editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, where she writes articles on Swedish and international politics, economics and feminism. On publication in Sweden, Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner was shortlisted for the August Prize and won the Lagercrantzen Award. She lives in London.