The Company of Strangers – A Natural History of Economic Life

The Company of Strangers
Paul Seabright
Princeton University Press, 2010
Level: leicht
Perspective: Evolutionary Economics
Topic: Economic History, Institutions, Governments & Policy, Microeconomics & Markets, Resources, Environment & Climate
page count: 400 pages
ISBN: 9780691146461


The Company of Strangers shows us the remarkable strangeness, and fragility, of our everyday lives. This completely revised and updated edition includes a new chapter analyzing how the rise and fall of social trust explain the unsustainable boom in the global economy over the past decade and the financial crisis that succeeded it. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, history, psychology, and literature, Paul Seabright explores how our evolved ability of abstract reasoning has allowed institutions like money, markets, cities, and the banking system to provide the foundations of social trust that we need in our everyday lives. Even the simple acts of buying food and clothing depend on an astonishing web of interaction that spans the globe. How did humans develop the ability to trust total strangers with providing our most basic needs?

Comment from our editors:

"The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life" by Paul Seabright is an engaging and informative book that explores the complex relationship between economic behavior and human instincts. Seabright uses real-world examples to present complex ideas in a clear and accessible way. The author argues that the market is not only a place for exchanging goods and services but also relies on trust, cooperation, and social norms. This book is a valuable read for anyone interested in economics, anthropology, or evolutionary biology and offers a fresh perspective on the origins of economic life.

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