Read Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics by Katrine Kielos Katrine Marçal Online


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. ItHow 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....

Title : Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781681771427
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics Reviews

  • Anna
    2018-12-05 11:29

    I REALLY wanted to like this book. I ordered it immediately after reading a review of it because I was so intrigued and excited by its premise. But I ended up disappointed in it and had to force myself to finish it. The central thesis of the book is interesting and crucially important, in my opinion (which is the reason it gets two stars and not one). But the author's clipped writing style would have lent itself better to a manifesto-style book that was half this book's length; that, or the book should have been longer and more academically rigorous. As it is, it felt vague and repetitive, revisiting asserted economic tropes over and over without really delving into economic theory enough to prove that those stated tropes were an accurate representation or criticism of economic theory. It's a good premise, but I would suggest you read a review of the book instead, as that will give you all the main ideas without the drudgery of actually reading the book.

  • Caren
    2018-12-10 19:16

    I enjoyed this book because the author took familiar economic ideas and turned them on their heads. Her point seems to be that economists have primarily been men and have developed an idea of rational "economic man" for how the world should work, leaving out the real "invisible hand", that is, the hand of a (usually unpaid) woman who is taking care of all the nurturing sorts of roles in society so that economic man can go out and manage the "real" economy. She said Adam Smith only mentioned the "invisible hand" of the marketplace once in his "Wealth of Nations", but that idea was picked up by neoliberals and has been dominant in our economy for the past thirty or more years. Smith's idea was that economic man acted in self-interest, but that, through the magic of the market, every self-interested transaction contributed to a smoothly running, prosperous whole. She says that even when a new branch of study , such as behavioral economics, is developed, it still uses traditional economic man as a reference point. For example, Daniel Kahneman developed the idea that people don't , in fact, act rationally, but the state then used that information to try to nudge people toward state-sanctioned choices. As she says on page 153, "Of course, it's not behavioural economists' fault that their analysis is used to create shortcuts for politicians who want to avoid making difficult decisions. The theories are certainly a step in the right direction. But they don't change the fact that economics is still a science of choice--not a science about how society will survive, keep house and evolve. No overview of society and how people are created and formed in relation to each other is found within behavioural economics. Economics remains the study of the individual. It asserts that dependency is not a natural part of being human, and power relationships aren't economically relevant."In the epilogue, the author finally tells us who Adam Smith's mother was: Margaret Douglas. On pages 192-193 she says, "Margaret Douglas is the missing piece of the puzzle. But it doesn't necessarily follow that when you find the missing piece the solution will become clear. 'There is no such thing as a free lunch' if one of the most-often quoted truths in economics. To this should be added: there is no such thing as free care. If society doesn't provide childcare that we all contribute to, then someone else will have to provide it. And that someone is most often a woman. Today, Margaret Douglas is the woman who reduces her hours at work to care for her grandchildren. She does this because she loves them and because there isn't any other solution. Her daughter and her son-in-law have their own jobs to go to. There's no chance their family could survive on one salary, when they can barely manage on two. It's usually women who reduce their working hours to care for their offspring and who, as a result, lose out on economic security, pension contributions and future earning. And it's our welfare, tax and pension systems that haven't been built to compensate them for this work or even take it into account. Women's responsibility for care is presented as a free choice out of your own free will, you have to accept the consequences. Everything from the Scandinavian welfare states to our neoliberal economies is built on women doing certain kinds of jobs in the workforce at a very low cost....And this is work that's often related to care, to duty, nursing the sick, children and the ageing. Can today's problems in healthcare and education even be discussed without this perspective? The modern-day Margaret Douglas often takes care both of the children and of her own or her partner's sick parents. Seventeen per cent of unemployed British women quit their last job to care for someone else. For men, that figure is one percent."The book was translated from Swedish and used a lot of incomplete sentences to make emphatic statements. Somehow, this style made it seem choppy to me, so it didn't read smoothly. Still, the ideas were interesting, so the end experience was a positive one.

  • Holly
    2018-12-19 16:34

    What an interesting and subversive book this was. The "women and economics" story is sort of the background and Marçal spends more time focusing on the myth of the individualistic, rational, "economic man." It's an overview of the history of economics that begins with Smith and the invisible hand, and discusses the legacies of classical and neoliberal economics in short incisive chapters. This was a translation from the Swedish, and after finding myself alarmed at the typos in the 3-page preface to American edition, I found Saskia Vogel's translation of the text itself remarkable for its idiomatic English, gentle sarcasm, and emphatic drollness (a tone I'll assume Marçal intended).

  • Munthir Mahir
    2018-11-20 16:40

    It seemed to me the book was actually a collection of newspaper columns. It is frustrating enough that an author posits a question as the purpose of a book and fail to answer it or deliver a coherent theory or argument on the question. But positing a question and leading the reader to expect an answer only to write at the last pages that the purpose of the book is not to answer the question is deceiving.Actually there is no question to be answered, as the author concedes in the book that her main objection to economic theory, the exclusion of work performed in home by women, has already been addressed in economic theory albeit not satisfactorily to her. Matter of fact economics is not a science, I personally believe, at least not currently, however, it is ever evolving to refine its fundamentals with the the development of such theories and fields like behavioral economics. The authors other main objection is that economics reduces human relations to emotionless transactions where everything even a marriage relationship can be modeled and managed by economic laws. I would say, why shouldn't it? Any science, even economics, should capture relationship dynamics just like Newton's third law of motion. Newton's law doesn't care about why you swung the bat against the lamp post it describes the action and its results. So does economics it does not care why you had to pay high price on a product it only describes the demand and supply relation. The author keeps going on and on about how the economic man, the theoretical man used to model economic activities, fails to account for the way a woman thinks and performs her activities under social and cultural influences. But that is misleading, the economic man is a construct of the author and actually the economic man is a collective, an aggregate of all economic decisions and activities as they exist in an economy regardless of how these decisions and activities come about freely or under influence or coercion of society or culture. The author's squabbles with the economic man lay in politics and society not in economics. Again, economics is already accounting for women's activities though not fully yet. The author does not offer a solution or argument or theory on how does she wants economics to account for the love and care a woman expends raising her family; the paradox is once you model this love and care into a transaction or relationship it immediately becomes a faceless dry action with a price tag on it. Exactly what the author berates in economics - taking the humanity out of human relationships and transactions.

  • Keertana
    2018-11-24 17:19

    As an economist and a feminist, I really loved this novel. But, after the first couple of chapters where the significance of women's labor in the household is really underlined, the theoretical jargon concerning economic man simply bored me. I understood it, mostly because I'm studying economics, but the anecdotes and fast-paced chapters failed to really hit home any concrete ideas for me. I also took a few issues with the ending chapters where the author discusses how there's really only one sex. Men get to be human while women have to conform to gender stereotypes and identities, making them the sole sex--but while this book talks about how women's labor has been ignored for years, it manages to go right ahead and ignore stereotypes that MEN face on a day-to-day basis, too! Of course women have it worse--duh!!--but I wasn't as impressed with this analysis as I wanted to be. Anyhow, recommended for anyone who wants to really understand feminist economics (at least the first couple of chapters are worth a read at your local bookstore for sure!).

  • Viv JM
    2018-11-21 19:28

    This is an entertaining and thoroughly readable feminist take-down of economic theory, in particular the idea of "economic man". Marcal's writing is occasionally angry, often very funny and always accessible. On the cover of my edition, there is a quote by Caroline Criado-Perez: "I genuinely believe that if everyone read Katrine Marcal's new book, patriarchy would crumble..." I concur!By the way, the answer to the question "who cooked Adam Smith's dinner?" is, you guessed it, his mother!

  • Nick Imrie
    2018-12-15 12:45

    Adam Smith said 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.' This book is based on an interesting and thought-provoking observation: Adam Smith lived with his mother for all of her life, and she cooked his dinner every day. The butcher, baker and brewer may all demand payment for their work, but the work done by Mrs Smith was done out of love, and she was never paid for it. The book explores the simple observation that huge amounts of work are done without payment, the work of cooking, cleaning, childcare, elderly care, social care. Without this work capitalism could hardly survive - it is only because someone else is taking care of their day to day provisions that workers are free to dedicate themselves to paid work.However, having made this observation, the book repetitively meanders, approaching it from various angles but never really following it through to any strong conclusions, and never really addressing it with any rigorous attention to the numbers.The pros, cons and consequences of wages for all the kinds of work that are currently unpaid are never really explored in this book. Certainly not to the extent of the radical feminists of the 70s who made this same observation and followed with a load of demands for wages for housework, wages for childcare or transhumanist revolution of reproductive work. Likewise, the economic consequences of women giving up all their unpaid caring work are not really explored. Would the economy collapse if women all simply refused to raise the next generation unless they were paid for it? Or would it thrive from a massive influx of women, suddenly free to focus on careers the way married men can? There are some frightening or exhilarating futures possible here, but they're hardly even mentioned.The general gist of the argument seems to be: 'Women do a lot of necessary but unpaid work. That's a bit unfair, isn't it?'Or perhaps: 'Men may refuse to do anything without immediate personal gain, but women aren't so selfish.'

  • Alejandra Arévalo
    2018-11-26 18:36

    Katrine Marçal realiza un recuento histórico desde el ya conocido "hombre económico" de Adam Smith hasta las diversas teorías económicas actuales que lo sustentan y que buscan que el hombre económico sea quien nos relacione como individuos. Todo esto mientras le brinda una mirada feminista, dándole voz al trabajo que durante miles de años ha realizado la mujer y que se le ha invizibilizado, de tal manera que hasta el día de hoy no se ha incluido en la economía actual. Con una mirada crítica brinda los argumentos para demostrar que no es el hombre económico la mejor forma de analizar al supuesto individuo y se necesitan otras maneras que entiendan a la persona y su manera de organizarse como sociedad.Sencillo, claro y para principiantes como yo (feministas e interesados en la economía).

  • Megan
    2018-11-26 16:29

    I'm giving this 5 stars, not in the sense of "best book ever" but rather "everyone should read." I've never studied economics, but I'm familiar with the pretty much ubiquitous idea (in America et al) of the invisible hand of the market--if everyone acts in their own self-interest, it benefits the economy. But this idea doesn't take into account the vast amount of unpaid labour, usually done by women, that actually makes everything run. (E.g. The famous economist Adam Smith's mother cooked his dinner for her entire life.) The book presents critiques on historical and contemporary economic and social theories, but I found that the same thesis was presented several times without leading to "next steps" for economic theory and policy. So I'm left wanting to read more about feminist economics!

  • Kelly
    2018-11-24 12:39

    A readable, witty look at the intersection of economics and feminism. I loved this and breezed through it -- a lot to chew on relating to women's work, economic mobility, and human psychology. Also a reminder than white dudes who did a lot of the groundwork for "thinking" and "philosophy" in the past and became legends were only allowed to do so because mom/wife did all of the other work. In Smith's case, he lived with mom, she fed him, she did the chores, and he only had to work. (Thoreau, if you didn't know, "went to the woods because he wished to live deliberately" but went home to mommy who did his laundry).

  • Oliver Clarke
    2018-12-16 17:32

    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.

  • Marcelo
    2018-12-19 18:37

    Un libro interesante pero creo que en algunos puntos la autora deduce mal las cosas o quizás le falte mayor análisis

  • Jonas Veland
    2018-11-22 15:36

    vrir meg i graven

  • Sho
    2018-12-19 15:18

    The subtitle of this is A Story About Women and Economics, so it was bound to grab my attention.It is, in short, a summary of economics and how it doesn't calculate the worth of unpaid work, which is largely but not exclusively, done by women. An example is in the title: undoubtedly Adam Smith had a phenomenal mind and is pretty much the father of modern economics. But he barely mentioned the contribution women made - and many economists fall into the same trap.Only the support of his mother, and his cousin as it happens, in that they ran his household and made sure he was fed and watered, enabled Adam Smith to have the time to concentrate on his studies and writing. Nowadays, especially in the lower-paid "classes" (I can't think of a better word, but I don't really like that) the cost of childcare often means that one parent stays home to look after the children, thus enabling the other to get on with his (and it is usually the man) work/life. This work is undervalued and completely ignored in GDP figures. But work it out: if all these (largely) women just decided not to do it, not to care for their children at home, not to look after relatives etc etc, and left it to the market to do it, GDP would increase. If this work suddenly became paid employment, it would magically appear in economic statistics.That it would remain largely woefully underpaid and inadequately funded is another subject, of course. But the fact that, where it is a paid job, the jobs are horribly underpaid.Definitely food for thought here.

  • David
    2018-12-10 11:34

    Marcal's thesis - that the economic model on which most of the world operates assumes an "economic man" that acts rationally and in self-interest but depends on assistance to feed him, clothe him, have his children, etc and undervalues all of that effort - makes sense and is a call to action. The problem is that she writes in a staccato style that is all but unreadable. And her passion for the subject is overwhelmed by sarcasm. Too bad because she's on to something. But this is one of the worst books I've ever read. Too bad Apple doesn't give refunds for poor iBooks.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-03 16:21

    Brilliant book, I learned a lot about economics (but I was starting from a pretty low base). This is a polemic not a textbook and I was aware it was a particular point of view, I am sure there will be critiques of her economic views but I found it compelling and it is very easy to read. If you wonder why no-one saw the 2008 financial crash coming, and why the big banks are still there, doing what they did before while the average person is much worse off, this is the book for you.

  • Trish McLellan
    2018-12-05 14:24

    Katrine Marcal writes about a part of economics that has never made sense to me. I'm glad someone is making this problem more known about. What we need next is a different way of seeing how the world works.

  • Vikas Datta
    2018-12-19 18:27

    A very cogent and reasoned critique of the shortcomings of modern economic thought - and reging but restrained anger at where it has led us...

  • Vicki
    2018-11-29 12:16

    Not feeling it. Great idea but terrible execution. No single thread through the book, disjointed, too much that's vague at times and overly specific at others. Meh.

  • Kathryn
    2018-12-06 12:26

    I really wish the whole book was as coherent as the epilogue.

  • Moa Wikén
    2018-12-15 12:30

    Folkbildande om nationalekonomi och hur kvinnors prestationer värderas i det ekonomiska systemet.

  • Tanya
    2018-11-20 12:26

    I've been trying to get my hands on this book for awhile now, because I was really interested in learning more about women's place in the economy. While Marçal does touch on these practical details, the majority of the book is spent discussing economic theory. She purports that our modern theory revolves completely around "economic man" who embodies the qualities of competitiveness, rationality, strength, objectivity, universality, basically masculine traits. By leaving his desire for all the "feminine" ideals at home (emotion, the body, passivity, sexuality, etc) he becomes a machine and can engage in the monetary world. Care-taking is not part of that world, which is why careers such as teaching and nursing are not highly remunerated, and why women's work in general is not taken into consideration when determining a country's productivity. I do see the point she is making, but I got tired of reading about theory. Honestly, this hardcore feminist slant on things didn't much appeal to me, and I didn't get out of the book what I had hoped. Barely a 3.

  • Hannah Cook
    2018-11-27 16:27

    Well this is straight up awesome. She totally tears economists a new one. And leaves you thinking I can't believe people have bought into this BS for so long. I mean the garbage that economists spew. Plus she has a go at Freud, which I always appreciate. I didn't think it was quite 5 stars though. Sometimes the compelling factor slipped a little, and I think, as you would expect, it loses a little in translation (from Swedish).One of my favourite stories was how some male economist is explaining how absolutely everything complies with the economic theory du jour. He says even babies know that if they cry a little bit, mummy will come. But if they cry too much, mummy won't come. She rightly burns him and his ridiculous "fantasy of parenting" completely. I mean, honestly. Anyway great and overdue expose of how women are completely invisible in "the economy". I feel I'm owed a rather hefty pay cheque for looking after the baby!

  • Olga Lukinskaya
    2018-12-05 14:37

    Почему рождение детей и приготовление ужина не считаются продуктивной работой и не учитываются в ВВП? Кто воспитывает детей няни и убирает дома у уборщицы? Почему большинство живущих за чертой бедности — женщины? Эта книга поднимает важные вопросы и помогает переосмыслить привычные идеи об экономическом устройстве мира. Особенно с позиции женщин, права которых до сих пор во многом не сравнялись с мужскими, а решения на свободном рынке часто основаны на выборе не оптимального варианта, а меньшего из нескольких зол. — моя рецензия для обложки.

  • Sivananthi T
    2018-11-23 13:36

    This was a clever book on how women and the work we do have been excluded from economic theory and economic systems. The book itself was littered with quotable lines and images that capture the imagination and will be much utilised. the book also attacks the patriarchal premises of current economic theory and the manifestation termed 'neoliberalism'. However, does not posit in concrete terms what a feminist economics response to neoliberalism will look like, beyond the broad principles.

  • Mike
    2018-11-19 14:31

    Several reasons I can think of to criticize this. It suffers from thematic incoherence, the translation is a little sloppy, and it probably should have been published as more of a manifesto. But that criticism is largely ignorable, it's god damn fascinating throughout. No doubt the patriarchy would stay firmly in place if everybody read it, but it's a fantastic perspective to have when introducing yourself to some of the more popular economic theories in the western world.

  • Toria Banks
    2018-12-11 12:29

    I'd give this 5 stars for the importance of the ideas it discusses. I just found it a bit repetitive in the writing, and at times it seems quite basic, but the insights build up and the combined weight of them is quite surprising.

  • Bonnie Brandt
    2018-12-14 14:42

    I literally kept falling asleep while trying to read this book. I loved the premise of it, but unfortunately it was much too technical for my level of economic understanding. I made myself read to page 50 and just couldn't go any further.

  • Emel
    2018-12-03 13:32

    I confess I gave up on the last two chapters and in the end just skimmed them, but that's not a fair reflection on the book, which was excellent. It was well written with a compelling message and at times very entertaining. I just ran out of steam with it at the end.

  • Fatima
    2018-12-12 15:29

    A bit repetitive at times. Also, there were times where I felt like I couldn't follow her conclusions. I felt like there more explanations about economic theories than feminist economic theories. But other than that, pretty interesting.