Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?
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 the “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 point of view 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 worthless. 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 feminist Freakonomics, 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 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.