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Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything
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Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  309 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Winner of the 2011 NCTE George Orwell Award for outstanding contributions to the critical analysis of public discourse. One of The Atlantic's Top 11 Philosophy/Psychology Books of 2011 As human beings, we've always told stories: stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we're going. Now imagine that one of those stories is taking over the others, narrowing ou...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Red Clover Press (first published 2011)
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Entwined by Heather DixonWither by Lauren DeStefanoUnearthly by Cynthia HandAcross the Universe by Beth RevisDarkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
Beautiful Book Covers of 2011
234th out of 638 books — 4,254 voters
Alone Together by Sherry TurkleAt Home by Bill BrysonThe Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanMonoculture by F.S. MichaelsMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
KiwiFoo Camp 2012 Recommendations
4th out of 65 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

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su
David Kelley, pulitzer prize winning historian:

“The entire Bay Area is enamored with these notions of innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, mega-success,” he says. “It’s in the air we breathe out here. It’s an atmosphere that can be toxic to ... refuge, contemplation, and investigation for its own sake.”


I give this book 5 stars for quality of ideas, 2.5 stars for quality of execution. I think this is a very important book with a critical message. I'm glad I came across this book (thanks Cate...more
Lance Thornswood
The principal thesis behind this book is intriguing: In biology monocultures are a bad thing because they weaken the natural bio-diversity of a species, making it more susceptible to a disastrous pest or disease or leaving it less able to adapt to other changes in its environment. This is a well-accepted theory.

Now suppose that same concept also holds true for ideas, especially the key ideas underlying our civilization: religion, community, education, work, relationships. If those are also domin...more
Grant
I think the premise of the book is much more intriguing than the actual read. The premise is that every period in history is dominated by a master story (e.g. the religion story, the science story), and that our period is dominated by the economic story. Monoculture refers to the effect that this master story has on culture: "one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture." The author argues that values such as truth, beauty, justice, and freed...more
Paul McNeil
This book looks at our current economic monoculture- in other words, the way that the overarching narrative of economics has entered every aspect of our lives, from the obvious- like business- to the personal and creative. Perhaps what I liked most here was the idea of parallel cultures, rather than countercultures. In this idea, groups or ideas, like the slow food movement or pattern language architecture don't stand as a rejection of capitalism, but rather a different way to approach that aspe...more
Jordan Munn
The concept of monoculture is intriguing and worthy of thorough insight and discussion. This book, however, was not that. Instead, it's a superficial, formulaic, often-overstated, predictable diatribe against economics as the least common denominator that one is very likely to hear at some stoner gathering in an undergraduate dorm.

One positive takeaway is that the bibliography is really impressive. The goal of the book is very commendable, but it's a failure in the execution.
Abner Rosenweig
F.S. Michaels artfully avoids one word throughout her book: capitalism. The entire book is a critique of capitalism, or at least the renegade form of hyper-capitalism we find ourselves suffocating from in the West. By cleverly shielding the reader from the c-word and avoiding polarizing political and economic labels, she encourages readers to simply look at the facts and judge for themselves whether the current economic culture, which pervades all aspects of daily life from relationships to natu...more
Kristen
Booooooooooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnggggggg (Sorry Cate). I usually really like narrative nonfiction (think freakanomics, Malcolm Gladwell, Atul Gawande) but I just couldn't get into this one. I think it was the writing style, honestly - this just read like a textbook to me. I didn't find all the examples of the economic story particularly enlightening. Perhaps, though, my upcoming book club discussion will breathe some new life into it.
Jon
I'm just in the early stages, but so far, great read. I have some strong thoughts on much of what I;ve read so far, including Michael's accurate description of how our current Economic Monoculture is influencing just about everything is Western lives. I just finished reading his take on those who've tried to mix non-profit with a for-profit model, and his take that "experts" agree this is a bad idea. Coming from the Economic mindset, this makes sense. But my own experience shows that there is ye...more
Jodi
What I took from this book: we've let money fuck everything up. The economic story has become the dominant one for most everything in life, including things that might should've been left out of it. Things like health care, education, and art. Additionally, when you evaluate everything - having children, your relationships with others, your hobbies even - in terms of how they benefit you (or not) in economic terms, we lose the character of life and of living as humans.

Not everyone wants to live...more
Glen Grunau
Jeff Imbach of Soulstream, in his two persuasive essays (below) and in a recent Soulstream partner e-mail exchange, convinced me to read this book. I am aware that I am too little moved by the injustices in our world that have been perpetuated by this monoculture. Perhaps my reading of this book may help to soften my heart.

1) http://www.clarion-journal.com/clario...

2) http://www.clarion-journal.com/clario...


I loved this little book. The author makes a persuasive case that we are presently living...more
Sara M.
I got this ebook from LibraryThings’ early reviewer program. In exchange for a free copy of the book, I have to post a review.

I have been sitting on this book for months. I just wasn’t in the head space for it until recently. The premise of the book is that our society and culture develops around one common message. The modern message is one of economics. Michaels’ does a good job explaining how the economic message has permeated our lives from our careers and education to our religion and creat...more
KR (Karen)
I want to start this review with one of those deep movie trailer voices - "If there is one non-fiction book you should read this year..." - to get your attention, to add drama but actually I'd really mean it. Read this book.

Full disclosure: FS Michaels is a colleague of mine but this book still kicks non-fiction ass. Michaels takes on the rise of the economic story and shows how it is changing the way that we live:

"As human beings, we’ve always told stories: "stories about who we are, where we...more
H.
This book completely captured my attention. I thought it would be a hard read but I was intrigued right from the beginning about how I could "transcend" the monoculture once I understood it. I also like how the implications transcend all cultures and all people. The book does a great job of encompassing the main components of most people's lives in the six chapters about work, relationships and the natural world, community, physical and spiritual health, education and creativity - themes that es...more
Chris
This book is a mess. That's a shame because Michaels makes important, if not novel, observations about the rise of market theory in aspects across our society, and she does a great job of making this message interesting and digestible. With more focus, restraint and effort this could have been a landmark book on contemporary culture. The middle chapters are a moving summary of how economic theory has changed varied aspects of our lives.

The biggest problem is the weakly argued abstraction of the...more
Amy
Jun 19, 2012 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
It is perhaps unfair to be frustrated with a book called "Monoculture" for being so one-sided in its argument. But nonetheless, I am. I read this with an eye toward using it in my argumentation and reasoning course, and I may yet do so: the things it does well--constructing a particular perspective--it does very well. But its representation of its sources within its prose is, to my way of thinking, borderline unethical; it relies almost wholly upon endnotes to indicate its source material, and t...more
Sarah Sammis
Monoculture by F.S. Michaels looks at how the unwritten and unspoken dominant culture of an area can shape the lives of the people within that culture. She argues that the current monoculture of the developed world is money — or more broadly the worth of things and actions.

Michaels outlines her argument around these key areas: work, relationship with others, relationships with the world, education, physical health, mental health, communities, and creativity. Against each of these areas of the hu...more
Bimbo
Popolnoma se strinjam z enim od komentarjev, ki pravi, da si osnovna ideja oziroma teza zasluži petico, izvedba pa je komaj zadovoljiva.

Z vseh vetrov napaberkovane bolj ali manj tehtne misli so zlepljene z ne najbolj izrazitim in prepričljivim avtoričinim vezivom. To pušča vtis ideološko obarvane reciklaže oziroma skrpanke, kar pa je v navzkrižju z osnovno poanto, ki je proti monokulturi, eni vsemogočni zgodbi, vseobsegajoči ideologiji.

Ta idejno zelo zanimiv in aktualen pamflet ima skoraj 200 sk...more
Greg
Won this on First Reads Giveaway. I can't wait for its arrival.

Great book that really makes you think about the forces that shape thoughts and culture. The way economics permeates all aspects of modern life and shapes the discussion and reality is a sobering thought. The book is well researched, well written, and accessible to a wide range of readers. At only 130 pages people can fly through this book and then come back and spend some time in the details. My only complaint is about the simplicit...more
Patrick Rodriguez
What a great book to start the new year. It's about how almost every aspect of our lives has come to be directed by the economic value system, and increasingly only by it. As opposed to the diversity of values that encompass the human experience. Not a rant on overthrowing or reforming the "system," but a thoughtful reminder of the parallel values that exist or await to be created outside of it.

Quick read, dangerously thought provoking.

"Stories tell us who we are and what the world is like. When...more
Neil
This is an entirely worthwhile book to read because the central premise of it is so right and so powerful. However, as another reviewer has pointed out, the writing is weak and the way the author has structured his argument could have been much more powerful. The main reason to read this book, though, is to grasp the concept of a monoculture and recognize that we exist within one here in the United States. People who travel to other countries and cultures will recognize this reality very readily...more
Mysterious3rd
The main idea in this book is that there is a loss of value diversity in different areas of life, and that changes how we live. The book has a wide application to a wide variety of readers because it looks at changing trends in work, education, communities, creativity and the art, spirituality, healthcare and government. I found the book very approachable, well-written, and accessible. Lots of good examples, good synthesis of complex ideas, and I ended up doing lots of "hmmm, that's interesting....more
Elizabeth
Oh, the frustration: I want to recommend this book highly for its ideas while acknowledging that the writing isn't the greatest. Try it anyway: it's thin. The monoculture Michaels is discussing is an economic one: the idea that everything in life (religion, nature, education, medicine, etc.) should be viewed in terms of its profitability, its cost to us, whether it's efficient, and so on. The author provides many examples (yay!), but in spelling them out, they come across as repetitive. View thi...more
CR Reading
An extremely thoughtful and well-written thesis about the ubiquitous commercialization of contemporary life. F.S. Michaels points out how we frame our understanding of spirituality, healthcare, and other aspects of society through an economic lens. If On Purpose Before Twenty describes the cure, Monoculture provides the clearest diagnosis of the ailment I have read. Michael's intelligent and careful analysis of how the "economic story" dominates our thinking is important to read.
Stephen
I absolutely LOVE this book. It's a quick read, with some very important points. It certainly sets a pretty good understanding of paradigm shifts, and presents a compelling argument for the ECONOMIC MONOCULTURE, what it says, and how this relates to individuals, businesses, and our values. This book should be read by everyone who can read it. I'd like to see it appearing in class rooms. And regardless of your creed, religion, political stance, and vision of where the world is, I think that it wi...more
Peter Gasston
Started off really well, making a strong and persuasive case that we're living in an economic monoculture which affects every aspect of our lives, putting into words the feeling that many of us have. Having established this, however, then didn't follow through with any powerful conclusions or suggestions on how to change this. Frustrating, as after reading the opening chapters I was ready to hail this as one of the books of the year.

Certainly worth a read, but failed to deliver any knockout blow...more
Sinisterdaisy
An excellent, thought-provoking read. This was one of those books that really made me think days after reading it because suddenly I was aware of how the economic culture seeps into so many aspects of our lives. Although frightening at times, especially regarding how the economic culture has influenced healthcare, overall I found this book hopeful and empowering. With FS Michaels' clear, concise writing style and the uniqueness and relevance of the subject, it is one of the best non-fiction book...more
Nisha
An excellent, thought-provoking read. This was one of those books that really made me think days after reading it because suddenly I was aware of how the economic culture seeps into so many aspects of our lives. Although frightening at times, especially regarding how the economic culture has influenced healthcare, overall I found this book hopeful and empowering. With FS Michaels' clear, concise writing style and the uniqueness and relevance of the subject, it is one of the best non-fiction book...more
Shanae
Fairly intriguing. The information Michaels examines in the book is all so relevant to me. It's crazy how much one general theme shapes the lives of many people. I recommend this book. It is an easy read, is very enlightening, and well written. I'm glad I got the chance to read this book, since under normal circumstances I know I would not have picked it up.

**I received this book freely in a Goodreads giveaway. I wasn't compensated in any way for this review though I didn't pay for this book. Yo...more
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
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Winner of the 2011 NCTE George Orwell Award for outstanding contributions to the critical analysis of public discourse.

One of The Atlantic's Top 11 psychology books of 2011.

In Monoculture , F.S. Michaels draws on extensive research and makes surprising connections among disciplines to take a big-picture look at how one story is changing everything.

Michaels' research and writing have been supporte...more
More about F.S. Michaels...

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“A good story, well told, makes you realize you were yearning for something you had no name for, something you didn’t even know you wanted.” 1 likes
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