Economic Man vs. Humanity: a puppet rap battle

An economist, a songwriter and a puppet designer walked into a recording studio.

What came out? An economics puppet rap battle, of course.

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, puppet designer Emma Powell, musician Simon Panrucker, and renegade economist (and WEAll Ambassador) Kate Raworth have created a surreal musical puppet adventure to challenge the heart of outdated economic thinking.

Their 7-minute video stars puppets pitched in a rap battle with their economics professor. The project’s aim is to equip economics students and teachers with a playful but insightful critique of Rational Economic Man, the outdated depiction of humanity at the heart of mainstream economic thought.

A synopsis of the storyline:

Dissatisfied with the model of man presented in their economics lesson, three students visit their professor and embark on a rap battle to debate the very nature of humankind. While the professor argues that Economic Man – a rational, self-interested, money-driven being – serves the theory well, the students counter that a more nuanced portrait reflecting community, generosity and uncertainty is now essential. A musical puppet adventure challenging the heart of outdated economic thinking ensues.

Kate Raworth is the author of the internationally acclaimed book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist (Penguin Random House, 2017). ‘One of the most dangerous stories at the heart of 20th century economics is the depiction of humanity as rational economic man’ she says, ‘He stands alone, with money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet. In making this video, we wanted to make clear – as playfully as possible – that this absurd portrait is deeply out of date.’

The project was funded by the Network for Social Change and the video is being disseminated widely online. A full set of the lyrics is available for teachers and students who want to bring the details of the debate to life in the classroom.

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