The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation

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Homo economicus is the ´dollar-hunting man´ - an abstract model of a human being invented by modern economists. Through egocentric competitiveness they are endlessly maximising their own utility, always at work and seeking the constant accumulation of money. However, as Peter Fleming argues, they don´t really exist. The fake persona of homo economicus is used by politicians and managers to organise the social world through the state, business and the family. We are reminded on a daily basis that egocentric competition is the best way to live, and that if we do not we are failures, destined for a life of unemployment and poverty. Ironically however, the people who are most often told to follow this model are those who are set up to fail, including the poor, unemployed, students and prisoners. Unpicking the works of economists Gary Becker and Theodore Schultz, Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, this book allows us to finally understand why everyday life in late capitalist societies is marked by a peculiar proactive negativity, and how this model for being human now stands for an unattainable project that would actually cause chaos if enacted to the letter. In fact, it already is.
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