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I think that the film relates to economics in a couple of ways. The first is that Gardner is depicted as wanting to succeed in an economic condition that is also making his life difficult. Gardner seeks to find success in a capitalist configuration. Yet, it is this same configuration that contributes to making his son and himself homeless. Gardner's desire to find economic success in the economic condition that is making his life a challenge represents a unique perspective on economics. At the same time, Gardner's internship is shown to be in the very intense and brutal world of capitalism. Gardner is further shown trying to teach his son the lessons of survival in the world is one that does not have to trade off with being a compassionate human being. In this light, Gardner is teaching or parenting in a realm that understands the economic condition in which they live, but does not absorb it. Gardner does not teach his son some type of Social Darwinism, but rather teaches him how he needs to assert his own sense of self without trading off with others. It is here where I think that economics is present in the film and creates a unique dynamic in terms of assessing what is and what should be.
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