The Nature of Economies

Jane Jacobs

Book cover

I had high hopes for this book initially, but found it pretty uninspiring. First and foremost, the “dialogue” format seems extremely contrived and doesn’t feel like it helps to advance the arguments at all. There are so many characters (maybe 6?) and I never really developed a sense of differing personalities among them.

As for Jacobs’ ideas about economies, they seem reasonable enough, as far as they go–mostly treating economics through the lens of ecology. I often enjoy reading non-economist writers on economics, particularly when they take a heterodox view. But Jacobs, unlike some others (Wendell Berry, Gandhi), seems like she is trying too hard to “be legitimate” rather than just saying what she thinks. This book is peppered with phrases such as “Development is differentiation emerging from generality” that seem to me to be mundane observations wrapped up in formal-sounding language.

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars