Contemporary Film and Economics: Lights! Camera! Econ!, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contemporary Film and Economics

Lights! Camera! Econ!, 1st Edition

By Samuel R. Staley


98 pages

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What does the movie Lion tell us about why some societies grow rich and others remain poor? What can the global box office juggernaut, Jurassic World tell us about entrepreneurs and the ethics of business? Can the movie Passengers give us insight into human motivation and decision making? This book surveys more than 40 movies to answer these questions and much more.

Movies do more than entertain. They project important insights, often unintentional, into the way the world works and the values society cares about. Indeed, their stories are often grounded in the real-world experiences of everyday people. As part of this, movies also provide a window into understanding and evaluating economic behavior. Economics is, after all, the study of how scarce resources like labor, capital, and technology are used to improve (or reduce) our welfare. It also helps us to more fully understand the consequences in our lives that result from those choices and decisions. Through exploring a wide range of films from Passengers to Victoria and Abdul, this book delves into economic concepts such as opportunity costs, profit maximization, greed, business ethics, monopoly, economic growth, and entrepreneurship.

Contemporary Film and Economics is a must read for anyone interested in how movies project and interpret economic ideas, craft popular narratives for how economies operate, and explore motivations for economic behavior. Economists will find it useful in starting discussions on key concepts, while filmmakers will find the discussions of economic concepts a provocative way of thinking about how to craft engaging stories that are grounded in practical experience.


"Contemporary Film and Economics takes readers from what they see and hear in movies to what they really need to know about economics and sound decision making. Staley starts in Hollywood and then digs deep into the world of economics, covering important topics such as growth, development, entrepreneurship, and political decision making, moving the reader from the silver screen to the everyday choices that produce wealth and prosperity.", Joe Calhoun, Ph.D., Director, Stavros Center for Economic Education, Florida State University

"As a teacher of economics, I sometimes struggle to figure out how to get students to understand the stories behind the theories. As a producer, I sometimes struggle to get filmmakers to think about how to be economically realistic in the stories they tell. Staley’s Contemporary Film and Economics is a virtual blueprint for achieving both and reminds us that at the end of the day, economics is simply a set of theories that help us to better understand why any character- real or fictional- makes the decisions they do.", Jason Stephens, a film producer, entrepreneur, and Professor of Instruction at Columbia College Chicago, USA

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Economics in Film, Chapter 2. A Passage to Choice, Chapter 3. The Economics of Greed, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, Chapter 4. The Labor Market Costs of Crime, Pride, and Prejudice, Chapter 5. Financing the Housing Crisis and the Great Recession, Chapter 6. The Nature and Causes of Wealth in Film, Chapter 7. Government Without Romance, Chapter 8. Conclusion: The Economics Behind the Story

About the Author

Samuel R. Staley is an urban economist and director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University, USA. He is also a research fellow with the Independent Institute in Oakland, California as well as a public policy analyst, film critic, and award-winning novelist.

About the Series

Routledge Economics and Popular Culture Series

Ever wondered how the key concepts of central banking can be explained through the songs from Hamilton?

Or what you can learn about entrepreneurs and the role of ethics in business from Jurassic World?

Or what the 80-year career of Wonder Woman can teach us about the evolving role of women in the workplace?

These questions, and many more, are answered in the Routledge Economics and Popular Culture series. Each book in this series demonstrates that blockbuster franchises, smash hits on Broadway, comic book creations, and bestselling novels, all provide perfect examples of key economic ideas and principles in practice. Written in a clear and concise style, and assuming no previous background in economics, these books demonstrate that the ‘dismal science’ can be a lot more fun than you might think.

Proposals for new books in the series can be sent to the Routledge editor: [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General