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No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice
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No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  15 reviews
We live in a culture of choice. But, in an age of corporate dominance, our freedom to choose has taken on new meaning. Upset with your local big box store? Object to unfair hiring practices at your neighbourhood fast food restaurant? Want to protest the opening of that new multinational coffeeshop? Vote with your feet!
What if it's not that simple?
In "No One Makes You
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by Between the Lines(CA)
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Wendy Liu
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A critique of market logic & the valorisation of individual choice as a means of guaranteeing optimal outcomes, using game theory as well as real-world examples. Has a (soft) left perspective but meant for a popular audience. A decent summary of arguments against rational choice theory, though nothing super new if you already agree with the core premise.
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it
When I first picked up this book, I expected it to be something of a companion-book to The Wal-Mart Effect (my review here). Imagine my surprise, then, to find that it was nothing of the sort. Instead, No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart is a discussion of game theory and economics. It challenges the common assumption of "MarketThink" (the author's term), which posits that if everyone is making free choices in a free-exchange market, then everyone individually and society collectively will have ...more
Aaron Arnold
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to popular economics books, some people will find themselves interested primarily in works about the failures of the market (and/or the virtues of the public sector), and some are more oriented towards books on the shortcomings of the government (and/or the superiority of the private sector). This crude liberal/conservative conceptual divide probably captures a majority of readers of non-technical, non-academic books out there; and while like most dichotomies it's maybe a little ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Over the years I have read a number of books on economics; both of the popular and academic variety. Very few were as interesting and illuminating as 'No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart'.

At its core, the book is an inditement of what the author terms 'MarketThink', a belief that the Free Market generates 'the best' outcome, and more importantly, is representative of our preferences. If we shop at Walmart is must, so MarketThink insists, be because that is what we prefer to do.

Through a series of
Jordan Peacock
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best primary on game theory, coordination problems, tragedies of the commons, etc. (and by extension, the limits of the simplistic microecon narrative) I've come across. If those terms are familiar to you already, there's probably nothing new here, but if they're not and you're curious, this is a great place to start, and the bibliography gives a good guide for where to go next.
Scott Robinson
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
It starts slow but gets good quick!

Each chapter opens as a basic primer on the game theory and economics behind free market capitalism and neoliberal thought. (Or, as Slee dubs it, MarketThink, a presumable riff off CrimethInc.) It then proceeds to dismantle the built-in assumption that empowering individual choice necessarily results in better social outcomes. Every page has real examples, every chapter practical takeaways for daily life.

As a die-hard individualist, I struggle with having seen
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
Tom Slee, as the cover of his book puts it, is "a writer, researcher, activist, and software professional" who lives in Canada. At age 46 he decided to write a popular economics book focusing on market failure. He claims that the mainstream worldview, which he calls MarketThink, is that markets driven by individual choices can solve problems and improve life in all domains of the society, and he wrote this book to argue that this is false. I don't know what makes Slee think this worldview is ...more
Mark James
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Slee does a fantastic job illustrating how personal choice, the core tenet of MarketThink, is not the cure-all that right-wing capitalists make it out to be. Rather, he argues, we need collective action and government regulation to protect the interests of the powerless consumer. Maintaining a tone that is neither indignant nor provocative, Slee encourages us to open our eyes to the fact that no choice we make is made in a vacuum.

I enjoyed learning about how game theory can be applied to reveal
Lucile Barker
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
157. No One Makes you shop at Walmart by Tom Slee
I was under the impression that this book was about Walmart itself, but it was an examination of choice itself and how we use and misuse it. From littering, going to a club, buying Adidas versus Nikes, or even getting a divorce, we have choices. However, we are ruled by MarketThink. The author uses game theory to show how these choices are limited and affected by the choices of others. I found the putting of a number on a feeling of satisfaction
Jessica Oswald
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, economics
Really never judge a book by it's cover. When I picked this up I guessed I had grabbed a book that would be full of opinion, instead I got a book about the philosophy of choice showing, not telling, me why we can be "free to choose" this or that but it doesn't mean we can actually get what we want. A big eye opener for everyone living with liberalist economic policy.
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book upends many of our accepted beliefs about choice. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the fundamental problems with free-market capitalism.
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: boxed
I've read Tom Slee's blog for a while, and I'm glad I finally got his book. It's similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life in concept, but as you can tell from the titles, Slee presents an interesting selection of problems as well as a game theory lens on solving them. Where Rock, Paper, Scissors feels at times like a parade through the social “weird news” hits of recent history, Slee builds an arc through each class of problem, up from the basic prisoner's dilemma until the ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
I really, really wanted to get behind this book, but after two chapters, I admittedly called it quits. There was very little compelling evidence to not shop at Wal-Mart or to debunk the idea of personal choice; instead, it featured hypothetical scenarios. I may try again at some point (as it's possible the scenarios did build to a crescendo), but I'm turned off.
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it

Great book - a very useful introduction to game theory, alternatives to free market thinking, collective action problems, free-rider problems, herd problems and more. Full of examples and mostly well-written, if a little light on solutions.
Greg Marra
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
An overview of some basic elements of game theory.
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Tom Slee writes about technology, politics, and economics and in the last two years has become a leading critic of the sharing economy. He has a PhD in theoretical chemistry, a long career in the software industry, and his book No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart is a game-theoretical investigation of individual choice that has been used in university economics, philosophy and sociology courses. He ...more