Econ 101 leaves out persuasion. What fraction of business (/politics) is persuasion?
Of course that's only part of the problem with lacking a theory of where utility surfaces come from.
People choose careers, (spouses?), and clothes based on narratives someone else wrote. Whether it's the YC type "entrepreneur" narrative or Puma's "sleek" narrative, or sci-fi narratives of technological progress.
Where did economists themselves get the idea to become professors? Could it have been from 17 years of schooling???
It's rare for people to initiate their own dreams or be 100% originators of their goals or preferences.
Which presents a problem for the Edgeworth-box story of lonely individuals trading with each other.
But the story Don Draper told about Lucky Strikes is, I think, the same one as the fMRI Pepsi/Coke experiment. #neuromarketing
It's that ∄ difference between "lies" and "truth": perception is reality. It's that pleasure and preference themselves are malleable and being moulded by others all the time. (Or at least they're trying to mould it.) Even besides "marketing types" or essayists trying to influence your unconscious or conscious thoughts as their job, plenty of people reflexively enforce social norms and expectations without a strong desire or benefit
The story of Don Draper and the Lucky Strikes makes us individuals out not as free-willed inventors of ourselves, util-seekers and comandantes of our own pocketbooks--but as dull voids with no idea what to do with the incomprehensible freedom we enjoy in a society where incomes so far exceed subsistence.
It puts us as templates onto which meme-smiths paint their work, searching for 1 that will stick and replicate itself.
It's somewhere in that spirit, I think, that persuasion in the workplace, in the store, on the TV, can be modelled. And without an effective theory of persuasion I don't see how economic theory can take an honest accounting of choice, preference, or "optimum".
Bike ride through streets named Brookside (nowhere near a brook), Ridgeview (not on a ridge), Westminster (none of their corpses will be entombed there). A tennis court on Buckminster Drive.
Ironically, this sign:
"NO SOLICATIONS ON THE PREMISES". The real estate developers and bankers involved have already done all the selling, thank you. Now we need these people to obediently and consistently rise for work every day and pay OUR due, without YOU fingering their pockets as well.
Even "Alan Rickman Reads Proust", the suggestions of what to do with freedom--trips to India, faling madly in love, "On The Road" type life--aren't original ideas, those come from stories which we have no better idea than to live out.
But why point out the unoriginality of others when I have so much to draw on myself?
My first business was, literally, a copy of one I'd worked at in another locality. My dreams to become a quant? 100% seeded in the insinuations of my professors.
Or even my unclever insults above aimed at the ownership society. Did I invent those myself? No. Umpteen movies and stories and poems railing against suburban culture. Any surprise that Millennials want to walk to small shops whereas their parents preferred driving to the mall? Was it that something about cars and roads and shops changed? Or that a generation worth of artists told a nasty story that changed the demand functions.