The Pricing of Progress - Economic Indicators and the Capitalization of American Life
Centre of Global South Asian Studies and the Emerging Worlds program is pleased to invite you to a talk by Dr Eli Cook and a discussion of his book "The Pricing of Progress"
How did Americans come to quantify their society’s progress and well-being in units of money? In today’s GDP-run world, prices are the standard measure of not only our goods and commodities but our environment, our communities, our nation, even our self-worth. The Pricing of Progress traces the long history of how and why we moderns adopted the monetizing values and valuations of capitalism as an indicator of human prosperity while losing sight of earlier social and moral metrics that did not put a price on everyday life. This book roots the rise of economic indicators in the emergence of modern capitalism and the contested history of English enclosure, Caribbean slavery, American industrialization, economic thought, and corporate power. He explores how the maximization of market production became the chief objective of American economic and social policy. We see how distinctly capitalist quantification techniques used to manage or invest in railroad corporations, textile factories, real estate holdings, or cotton plantations escaped the confines of the business world and seeped into every nook and cranny of society. As economic elites quantified the nation as a for-profit, capitalized investment, the progress of its inhabitants, free or enslaved, came to be valued according to their moneymaking abilities.
The book will be discussed by
Professor Henrik Hansen, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen
Dr Ravinder Kaur, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, CGSAS, University of Copenhagen
Author’s Bio: An historian of American capitalism, Eli Cook is an Assistant Professor at the University of Haifa and head of the American Studies Program. He received his PhD from Harvard in 2013. His award-winning book, "The Pricing of Progress: Economic Indicators and the Capitalization of American Life" was published in 2017 by Harvard University Press. He has written articles for the Atlantic, Time Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Jacobin, Chronicle of Higher Education and Rarity Quarterly.