Flawed Players in a Complex Game: Popular Audiovisual Explanations of Economics in the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes Money, Explained, a five-episode video series produced by the American explanatory journalism organization Vox and distributed globally by Netflix, as an exemplar of the recent proliferation of digital media content explaining economic issues to a general public. Such content reflects the increased prominence of news-about-relations in economic news coverage, a news form that aims to explain why current trends and events occur while also echoing early twentieth-century corporate pedagogic films and more recent personal finance journalism that instructs audiences on proper capitalist behavior. The Vox series considers several financial topics all centered on economic problems that individuals experience, involving get-rich-quick schemes, gambling, retirement saving, credit cards, and student loans. It focuses on individuals' psychological flaws as a cause for the problems they encounter and suggests that viewers can change their disposition and modify their individual behavior to surmount these problems. The series identifies some aspects of the economic system as unfair but does not consider the capacity of individuals to act collectively to restructure it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-225
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Political Economy
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by Duke University Press.


  • behavioral economics
  • filmmaking
  • financial literacy
  • journalism
  • psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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