Works like a Charm

Incentive Rhetoric and the Economization of Everyday Life

Robert O. McDonald
eISBN-13: 9781438494104

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Works like a Charm addresses a simple question: Why are “incentives” everywhere now? From inducements to work harder at our jobs to tax rebates for corporations, “incentive” names a general theory of motivation—according to economists, we are incentive-driven creatures. Yet far from being a neutral generalization, this understanding of human behavior smuggles in a quintessentially economic way of seeing the world. Works like a Charm applies Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic concept of retroactive causality to explain the metastasis of the language and logic of incentives: To discover an incentive is to place in the untouchable past an economic cause for a contextual, historical force. Tracing “incentive” from its roots in antiquity to its uptake by neoclassical and then Chicago-school economists, Robert O. McDonald diagnoses the spread of incentives across the social, cultural, and political field and warns readers of the dangers of handing over causality to the economists.

ISBNs 1438494106, 9781438494081, 9781438494104
Language English
Number of Pages 304