The Theory of the Leisure Class (Forgotten Books)

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9781606801802: The Theory of the Leisure Class (Forgotten Books)

The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago.

Veblen claimed he wrote the book as a perceptive personal essay criticizing contemporary culture, rather than as an economics textbook. Critics claim this was an excuse for his failure to cite sources. Nonetheless, Theory of the Leisure Class is considered one of the great works of economics as well as the first detailed critique of consumerism.

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 his time (turn-of-the-century America) and anthropology, he held that much of today's society is a variation on early tribal life. (Quote from wikipedia.org)

About the Author

Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Tosten Bunde Veblen July 30, 1857 - August 3, 1929) was a Norwegian-American sociologist and economist and a founder, along with John R. Commons, of the Institutional economics movement. He was an impassioned critic of the performance of the American economy, and is most famous for his book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

Veblen was born in Cato, Wisconsin, of Norwegian immigrant parents. While Norwegian was his first language, he learned English both from neighbors and from school, which he began at the age of 5. His family was highly successful and placed great emphasis on education and hard work, all of which undoubtedly contributed to his later scorn for what he termed "conspicuous consumption" and waste of the gilded age. (Quote from wikipedia.org)

About the Publisher

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From the Inside Flap:

Almost a century after its original publication, Thorstein Veblen's work is as fresh and relevant as ever. Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class is in the tradition of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, yet it provides a surprisingly contemporary look at American economics and society. Establishing such terms as "conspicuous consumption" and "pecuniary emulation," Veblen's most famous work has become an archetype not only of economic theory, but of historical and sociological thought as well. As sociologist Alan Wolfe writes in his Introduction, Veblen "skillfully . . . wrote a book that will be read so long as the rich are different from the rest of us; which, if the future is anything like the past, they always will be."

About the Author:

Alan Wolfe is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College and the author of One Nation, After All and Moral Freedom.

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Thorstein Bunde Veblen
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Veblen, Thorstein Bunde
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