Summary of The Death of Homo Economicus

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The Death of Homo Economicus book summary

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Peter Fleming, professor and author of The Mythology of Work, offers a sharp, articulate and authoritative critique of neoliberal economics. His tone occasionally veers into that of an angry blogger – with a few surprising expletives to match. But Fleming’s insights and startling connections lift this potential polemic to a more worthy, enduring level. His take on the “human capital theory” is fresh and compelling, as are his perceptions about the growing trends of Uberization and “quit lit.” Cynical, angry, frustrated and armed with a ton of references, Fleming convincingly smites the orthodoxy. You’ll cheer the way he points out the problems with current economic theories and their – according to Fleming – destructive applications. Although those who disagree will gain considerable information, they are likely to decry a lack of comprehensive alternatives and solutions.

About the Author

Peter Fleming is a professor of business and society at Cass Business School at City, University London. He writes for The Guardian and is the author of The Mythology of Work.


Neoliberal Economics

Even after the capitalist excess, unchecked greed and free market hubris that exploded into view in 2008, the conventional wisdom of neoliberal economics remains relatively intact. The financial crisis and economic depression of the 1930s decimated the wealth of the ruling classes. In response, the government reformed much of the financial system. But in contrast, the wealthy have only gotten richer in the years since 2008. The speculative habits of the financial sector are largely unchanged. Meanwhile, the left’s arguments about policy and reform seem weak and unfocused. This enables their opponents to pigeonhole them as living in the past.

Prioritizing Business Interests

The assumption that governments must prioritize the interests of companies and maximize their ability to employ people – whatever the work and whatever the business – is a gospel economic tenet of Western culture. This attitude celebrates more individuals having jobs, even if the jobs are unrewarding and unproductive. It also honors higher GDP, even if the output numbers include speculation, “extractive” business models and other dubious...

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