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Review of Exploring Capitalist Fiction: Business through Literature and Film by Edward W. Younkins

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03/22/2016Shawn Ritenour

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 4 (Winter 2015): 568–571

Edward W. Younkins has made a very welcome contribution to business and economic education with his book Exploring Capitalist Fiction. In this book he documents how various ideas about business, commerce, and economics have been communicated through literature, plays, and cinema. In doing so, he has written a book that should prove very helpful to business and economics professors who should be aware of how various economic and business-related messages are crafted in literature and cinema and would like to draw upon such media to better teach others important truths.

The importance of economic messages in media has not been lost on Austrian economists. Ludwig von Mises, for example, had much to say throughout his career about the importance of novels and the media in shaping people’s ideas about political economy. In one of his early main works, Socialism, he cites the nineteenth-century romantic and social-realist authors and poets as paving the way for socialism by inspiring their less talented and creative followers to propagandize against “the blood-sucking capitalist entrepreneur” and for “the noble proletariat” (Mises, [1922] 1981, p. 420). He further identifies Dickens’ Hard Times as an attack on utilitarianism and economic liberalism. In his great work Human Action, Mises asserts that one of the challenges of economic education is the impact of mass media (Mises, [1949] 1998, pp. 873–874). Mises also saw the genre of the detective novel as a particularly pernicious manifestation of anti-capitalist literature (Mises, 1956, pp. 52–55). Additionally, he argued that what he termed “social novels” mislead because they leave the reader the impression that poverty is the result of capitalism instead of a lack of capitalism (Mises, 1956, pp. 66–72).

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Cite This Article

Ritenour, Shawn, "Review of Exploring Capitalist Fiction: Business through Literature and Film by Edward W. Younkins, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 4 (Winter 2015): 568–571.

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