Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything” as Want to Read:
Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  504 Ratings  ·  71 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
Paperback, 202 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Red Clover Press (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Monoculture, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Monoculture

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Lance Thornswood
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: give-away
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
Abner Rosenweig
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jordan Munn
Feb 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I went into this book expecting something else. I was interested in the idea of how the stories we tell ourselves (whether individually or collectively) shape our decisions or behaviours. This book is basically about how capitalism has ruined everything (education, creativity, science and religion) which for a leftie like me, is not telling me anything I don’t already know. Some pretty basic ideas here, well referenced and expressed.
Emma Sea
Well, fuck. Yes. This. All of this.
Paul McNeil
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Oct 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Michael Layden
Simple, easy to digest book, which discusses a complex and grotesque topic. Will be one I will keep additional copies of to get people to think more about how economics frames our view of the world.
Lynn Weber
Jun 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was more simplistic than I was hoping. It was basically a repetitive critique of capitalism.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book that challenges us to look at the story we're living in now: an economic one. How does the story of economics change everything in our lives into transactional relationships? That's the main takeaway for me. Think about the way you think -- should everything be evaluated by its potential economic value -- it's a good read to wake you up a bit.

While I agree with some other reviewers that the writing style is a little flat and simply done, I think that could also be a strength, in allowing
Glen Grunau
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.



I loved this little book. The author makes a persuasive case that we are presently living
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Sara Marks
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Peter Landau
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading MONOCULTURE: HOW ONE STORY IS CHANGING EVERYTHING is like taking the red pill in THE MATRIX. It’ not that I was unaware of how influential the culture of business is, but F.S. Michaels writes about the extent to which it is so persuasive as to pave over all paths and drive our lives, leaving us in the backseat thinking we still have our hands on the wheel, that made me feel as if I had woke up just before going off a cliff.

Every era has its narrative, whether it be religious or scientif
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
KR (Karen)
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This book is based on an interesting, and timely, premise - that culture in each period of time, or era, is defined by a dominant idea. This dominant idea will come to affect the actions and thoughts of those living through it, though we are not really aware of this dominant idea until some time has passed. After introducing this idea, Micheals spends the remainder of the book outlining how the dominant idea of this age - economics - is creating a monoculture, and what the detrimental impacts of ...more
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sarah Sammis
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthias De Vriendt
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The idea presented in this book is simple, interesting and inspiring. The narrative however, feels utterly dull. It completely failed to mesmerize me... Until I was about halfway, then it unexpectedly begun to draw me in.

It has source references, which I find a major plus for this kind of book - In fact, a necessity to be credible.

It feels a bit too rational being a book about stories. Other books have told a very similar story much in a more interesting way. Yet, being so rational as it is, it
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Patrick Rodriguez
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What It Means To Be Human
  • The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self
  • The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life
  • The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
  • Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease
  • Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture
  • Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us
  • Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One
  • Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age
  • What Language Is: And What It Isn't and What It Could Be
  • So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America
  • Back to the Best Books
  • The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time
  • The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature
  • Sincerity: How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We All Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull)
  • Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
  • Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures
  • Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality  (Biopolitics Series)
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 support
“It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world. —BEN OKRI” 2 likes
“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.” 2 likes
More quotes…