Veblen, Thorstein. What Veblen Thought: Selections from the Writings of Thorstein Veblen. New York. 1936. Viking Press. . Edited by Wesley C. Mitchell. 503 pages. hardcover.


what veblen thought 1936 viking pressFROM THE PUBLISHER - 


‘A man in advance of his age, repudiated by his generation, may appear in historical perspective to have been the most authentic spokesman for what that generation was adding to culture.’ – From Dr. Mitchell’s Introduction. Thorstein Veblen represents the point in America's intellectual history at which Darwinism was brought into the backward science of economics. No man was better fitted temperamentally or better equipped in scholarship to perform this function. His economic heresies are notorious, but his reward lies in the speed with which, since his death, his ideas have grown into contemporaneity. An essay such as ‘The Case of America,’ written in 1923, is not only a profound explanation of the American small town, but is the equal of Main Street in its satirical trenchancy. This volume is for those who wish to refresh their knowledge of Veblen's teachings, who want to grasp in compact form his major contributions, and for those who do not yet know Veblen and do not choose to read ten or twelve separate volumes. Dr. Mitchell, one of Veblen's best-known pupils, has selected the clearest, most forceful expressions of Veblen's leading ideas: criticisms of orthodox economics in the light of other sciences; satiric studies of the leisure class and other effects of the money psychology; distinctions between pecuniary and industrial employments, between the business man and the engineer; the past of Europe and the future of America; perpetual world peace, and so on. The result might be called the essence of Veblenism.



Veblen ThorsteinThorstein Bunde Veblen (born Torsten Bunde Veblen; July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was an American economist and sociologist, and leader of the institutional economics movement. Veblen is credited for the main technical principle used by institutional economists, known as the Veblenian dichotomy. It is a distinction between what Veblen called 'institutions' and 'technology'. Besides his technical work, Veblen was a popular and witty critic of capitalism, as illustrated 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), where he argued that there was a fundamental split in society between those who make their way via exploitation and those who make their way via industry. In hunter-gatherer societies, this was the difference between the hunter and the gatherer in the tribe, but in feudalism, it became the difference between the landed gentry and the indentured servant. In society's progressively modernized forms, those with the power to exploit are known as the 'leisure class', defined by a commitment to demonstrations of idleness and a lack of productive economic activity. Veblen maintains that as societies mature, conspicuous leisure gives way to 'conspicuous consumption'. Both are performed to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. While Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry, he did not support labor movements of the time. Scholars mostly disagree about the extent to which Veblen's views are compatible with Marxism, socialism, or anarchism. Veblen believed that technological developments would eventually lead to a socialist economy, but his views on socialism and the nature of the evolutionary process of economics differed sharply from Karl Marx's. While Marx saw socialism as the immediate precursor to communism and the ultimate goal for civilization to be achieved by the working class, Veblen saw socialism as an intermediate phase in an ongoing evolutionary process in society that would arise due to natural decay of the business enterprise system. As a leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, Veblen made sweeping attacks on production for profit, and the emphasis on the wasteful role of consumption for status found within many of his works greatly influenced socialist thinkers and engineers who sought a non-Marxist critique of capitalism. Wesley C. Mitchell was a disciple of Thorstein Veblen and a founder of the institutionalist school of which Veblen is considered the father.






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