The Discourses of Capitalism: Everyday Economists and the Production of Common Sense, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Discourses of Capitalism

Everyday Economists and the Production of Common Sense, 1st Edition

By Christian W. Chun


160 pages

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Since the global economic crisis of 2007–2008, ‘capitalism’ has been the topic of widespread general discussion in both mainstream and social media. In this book, Christian W. Chun examines the discourses of capitalism taken up by people in their responses to a street art installation created by Steve Lambert, entitled Capitalism Works for Me! In doing so, he considers several key questions, including:

  • How do everyday people view and make sense of capitalism and its role in their work and personal lives?
  • What are the discourses they use in their common-sense understandings of the economy to defend or reject capitalism as a system?

Chun looks at how dominant discourses in social circulation operate to co-construct and support capitalism, and the accompanying counter-discourses that critique it. This is key reading for advanced students of discourse analysis, language and globalization/politics, media/communication studies, and related areas. A video lecture by the author can be accessed via the Routledge website ( and the Routledge Language and Communication Portal (



“Based on his own life history and embodied praxis, Christian Chun offers us a rare authentic voice in this powerful yet sensitive study of how Americans discursively turn capitalism into common sense. Oscillating between Marxian theory and observations of contemporary events and employing innovative research tactics, this study can serve as a model for mature critical inquiry.” Jan Blommaert, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

"Christian Chun's work contributes significantly to growing criticism of the stale, ossified rationalization of the capitalist status-quo that comprises so much of contemporary economics and presents itself as a science above partisan ideologies. Important reading for any serious engagement with modern economics." Richard D. Wolff, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Table of Contents


Chapter One: The discourses of capitalism

Chapter Two: Ideology, common sense, and hegemony

Chapter Three: Discourse itineraries of economic representations

Chapter Four: Common-sense beliefs: "The only system that ever does work"

Chapter Five: Hegemonic discourses of capitalism: "Nothing is perfect"

Chapter Six: Counter-hegemonic discourses: "Who gets all the money?"

Chapter Seven: Public pedagogy engaging with the discourses of capitalism


About the Author

Christian W. Chun is Assistant Professor of Culture, Identity, and Language Learning in the Applied Linguistics Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston, USA. He is the author of Power and Meaning Making in an EAP Classroom: Engaging with the Everyday (2015).

About the Series

Language, Society and Political Economy

This series aims to publish broadly accessible monographs which directly address how theoretical frameworks in political economy can directly inform the critical analysis and discussion of language in society issues. Contributions to the series include extensive theoretical background, dealing with an aspect or area of political economy, before moving to an application of this theoretical discussion to a particular language in society issue. The series takes up the challenge of interdisciplinarity, linking scholarship in the social sciences in general (and political economy in particular) with the kinds of issues which language in society researchers have traditionally focused on. The series also aims to publish books by authors whose ideas fall outside the mainstream of language in society scholarship and by authors in parts of the world which have traditionally been underrepresented in relevant international journals and book series.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General


The discourses of capitalism: Everyday economists and the production of common sense

In this video, Dr. Christian Chun addresses how people co-construct hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses of capitalism and their own relationships to the economy.

Common sense and good sense Everyday economists and their discourses of capitalism

Does capitalism work for you

Author Interview

Read our exclusive interview with Christian Chun to find out what inspired him to write the book.