The Theory Of The Leisure Class [ By: Thorstein Veblen ] [NOOK Book]

Overview

This classic of economic thought is a scathing critique of American snobbery and wastefulness. Chief among the practices that Veblen so wittily satirizes is 'conspicuous consumption', a pattern of behaviour that still flourishes among us.

In the book, Veblen argues that economic life is driven not by notions of utility, but by social vestiges from pre-historic times. Drawing...
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The Theory Of The Leisure Class [ By: Thorstein Veblen ]

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Overview

This classic of economic thought is a scathing critique of American snobbery and wastefulness. Chief among the practices that Veblen so wittily satirizes is 'conspicuous consumption', a pattern of behaviour that still flourishes among us.

In the book, Veblen argues that economic life is driven not by notions of utility, but by social vestiges from pre-historic times. Drawing examples from the contemporary period and anthropology, he held that much of today's society is a variation on early tribal life.

According to Veblen, beginning with primitive tribes, people began to adopt a division of labor along certain lines. The "higher status" group monopolized war and hunting, while farming and cooking were considered inferior work.

He argued this was due to barbarism and conquest of some tribes over others. Once conquerors took control, they relegated the more menial and labor-intensive jobs to the subjugated people, while retaining the more warlike and violent work for themselves. It did not matter that these "menial" jobs did more to support society (in Veblen's view) than the "higher" ones. Even within tribes that were initially free of conquerors or violence, Veblen argued that certain individuals, upon watching this labor division take place in other groups, began to emulate the behavior in higher-status groups.

Veblen referred to the emerging ruling class as the "leisure class." He argued that while this class did perform some work and contributed to the tribe's well-being, it did so in only a minor, peripheral, and largely symbolic manner. For example, although hunting could provide the tribe with food, it was not as productive or reliable as farming or animal domestication, and compared with the latter types of work, was relatively easier to perform. Likewise, while tribes occasionally required warriors if a conflict broke out, Veblen argued that militaristic members of the leisure class retained their position—and, with it, exemption from menial work—even during the extremely long stretches of time when there was no war, even though they were perfectly capable of contributing to the tribe's "menial" work during times of peace.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940012641854
  • Publisher: Publish This, LLC
  • Publication date: 3/14/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,311,808
  • File size: 249 KB

Meet the Author

Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Tosten Bunde Veblen (July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was an American sociologist and economist and a primary mentor, along with John R. Commons, of the institutional economics movement. Besides his technical work he was a popular and witty critic of capitalism, as shown by his best known book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

Veblen is famous in the History of economic thought for combining a Darwinian evolutionary perspective with his new institutionalist approach to economic analysis. He combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), arguing there was a basic distinction between the productiveness of "industry," run by engineers, which manufactures goods, and the parasitism of "business," which exists only to make profits for a leisure class. The chief activity of the leisure class was "conspicuous consumption", and their economic contribution is "waste," activity that contributes nothing to productivity. The American economy was therefore made inefficient and corrupt by the businessmen, though he never made that claim explicit. Veblen believed that technological advances were the driving force behind cultural change, but, unlike many contemporaries, he refused to connect change with progress.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2004

    Veblen the Comedian

    I probably understood fifty percent of the entire book. It's written in a style that is, I think, ment to confuse and challenge the reader. There were sentenses that were almost half a page long. Veblen's theories and ideas were very intriguing. His observations, analysis, and intrepertations were absolutely brilliant. So much implication in a man with functioning legs, walking with a cane!...Only Veblen with a wit of a stand up comedian could bring such facts to our attention. This book was listed under economics which I saw very little reference to economy. The book would best be categorized as a phylosophy.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Sample does not include Veblen's text

    Although the sample is 52 pages long, it's doesn't get even to the end of the introduction. It doesn't include any of Veblen's text, which is supposed to be quite difficult.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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