Cover of Freedom from Work by Daniel Fridman
Freedom from Work
Embracing Financial Self-Help in the United States and Argentina
Daniel Fridman

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November 2016
248 pages.
from $27.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804798266
Paper ISBN: 9781503600256

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In this era where dollar value signals moral worth, Daniel Fridman paints a vivid portrait of Americans and Argentinians seeking to transform themselves into people worthy of millions. Following groups who practice the advice from financial success bestsellers, Fridman illustrates how the neoliberal emphasis on responsibility, individualism, and entrepreneurship binds people together with the ropes of aspiration.

Freedom from Work delves into a world of financial self-help in which books, seminars, and board games reject "get rich quick" formulas and instead suggest to participants that there is something fundamentally wrong with who they are, and that they must struggle to correct it. Fridman analyzes three groups who exercise principles from Rich Dad, Poor Dad by playing the board game Cashflow and investing in cash-generating assets with the goal of leaving the rat race of employment. Fridman shows that the global economic transformations of the last few decades have been accompanied by popular resources that transform the people trying to survive—and even thrive.

About the authors

Daniel Fridman is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

"A refreshing and rigorous analysis of financial self-help that gets to the heart of identity formation in neoliberalism. Fridman has a keen eye for the 'personal' dimension of financialization and its 'democratisation.' This is sociology at its best."

—Peter Miller, London School of Economics

"What explains the global appeal of financial self-help books? Freedom from Work provides crucial insights. A gifted observer, Fridman's ethnographic account uncovers a unique blend of morality and economics in self-help groups pursuing their dream of financial freedom. This book contributes to economic and cultural sociology but will also fascinate general readers."

— Viviana A. Zelizer, Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology, Princeton University

"A wonderful portrait of how financial technologies of the self work in modern culture. In observing players of a financial board game, Fridman effortlessly oscillates between rich ethnographic description and serious analytical depth to dissect the painful retooling that people perform in pursuit of an elusive 'freedom from work.' "

—Marion Fourcade, University of California, Berkeley

"For those of us who escape gladly to our offices on Monday morning, meanwhile, the promise of longer weekends isn't very compelling. But the idea of starting a conversation about how we distribute our time might be. The catch is that this conversation itself needs and takes time. That's what's so interesting about Freedom from Work's description of workers reading and playing board games on the job: even if they don't get rich, they've been reading and meeting to talk about books. "

—Christina Lupton, Public Books