Cover: The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community, from Harvard University PressCover: The Dismal Science in PAPERBACK

The Dismal Science

How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community

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$32.00 • £27.95 • €29.95

ISBN 9780674047228

Publication Date: 05/10/2010

Academic Trade

384 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 table


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Stephen Marglin makes a powerful and convincing argument for how thinking like an economist undermines community. Suddenly, the choices of those who reject global capitalism seem far more reasonable, because the globalization of capital brings with it the economistic thinking that destroys local values, forcing us to choose between material prosperity and spiritual health. Yet this tension is made invisible by a pseudo-universal ideology about human nature. Marglin thus provides a persuasive foundation for the Politics of Meaning.Tikkun

This is an exceptionally learned, uncompromisingly contrarian critique of markets and economics by a member of the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Stephen Marglin emphasizes the costs of market transactions and blames economics for supplying the associated frame of reference. The Dismal Science is patently the result of a lifetime of reading and cogitating about conceptual issues related to market exchanges and economists’ approaches to them. Some historical background is given but what is mainly offered is extended commentary on the history of thought and on everyday practice.—Eric Jones,

Marglin’s demonstration of the relationship between mainstream economics and the destruction of communities is seductive, convincing, and well documented.—Danny Lang, Irish Times

With breathtaking range, Stephen Marglin brilliantly turns the world of economics upside-down as he reveals the roots of economics in the Western myth of modernity and the destruction of community. At once analytical and intuitive, Marglin unites the talents of an economist, a storyteller’s humor and a skeptical mind to offer a new way of thinking about economy and economics.—Stephen Gudeman, University of Minnesota

In this timely and eloquent critique of the conventional economist’s ‘ideology of knowledge,’ Stephen Marglin pinpoints a huge blind spot at the heart of this powerful discipline. They can’t see community. It’s not that the people of the earth are, for the economist, bereft of community. It’s that he imagines them as interest-maximizing tin men who don’t need it. So as Wal-Mart mows down local communities in America and NAFTA mows them down in rural Mexico, the conventional economist stands silent on this issue. Economists and non-economists alike should read this book, and pass it around to friends in their community—if it’s still there.—Arlie Russell Hochschild, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Time Bind and The Commercialization of Intimate Life

Stephen Marglin’s The Dismal Science is a beautifully written and powerfully argued book that shows how the ideology of economics has justified and supported the trend towards selfishness and hyper-individualism in advanced societies.—Bianca Jagger

A brilliantly reasoned and long overdue expose of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of conventional economic thinking. If you are concerned about the decline of community and moral standards in public life, read this book.—David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World

The Dismal Science is a profound critique of economics by one of its own. It could not be more timely—the breakdown of human connection is arguably the most serious problem facing humanity, as it underlies other ills such as violence, environmental degradation and inequality. Stephen Marglin has produced a beautifully written and penetratingly intelligent argument about the role of the market in that process.—Juliet Schor, Boston College, author of The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need

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