The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (Great Minds) (Paperback)

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (Great Minds) Cover Image
Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days


Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929), the controversial American economist and social critic, argues that economics is essentially a study of the economic aspects of human culture, which are in a constant state of flux. In his best-known work, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Veblen appropriated Darwin's theory of evolution to analyze the modern industrial system.

While industry itself demanded diligence, efficiency, and cooperation, businessmen in opposition to engineers and industrialists were only interested in making money and displaying their wealth in what Veblen coined "conspicuous consumption." Veblen's keen analysis of the psychological bases of American social and economic institutions laid the foundation for the school of institutional economics.

About the Author

THORSTEIN B. VEBLEN, the son of Norwegian immigrants, was born in Valders, Wisconsin, on July 30, 1857, and was raised in rural Minnesota. He graduated from Carleton Col­lege in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1880 and earned his doc­torate from Yale in 1884.

An economist and social critic, Veblen dissected Ameri­can social and economic institutions and analyzed their psy­chological bases, laying the foundations for the study of institutional economics. In The Theory of Business Enter­prise (1904), he described the inherent conflict between the processes of technology and industry and those of business: Technology, the making of goods, naturally tended toward maximum efficiency in production, while business, the mak­ing of money, profited from monetary manipulation and restrictions on output to create artificially high prices.

Despite the effects these theories have had on the study of modern economics, it was The Theory of the Leisure Class, published in 1899, that became Veblen's best-known work. In it, he introduced the now classic concept of "con­spicuous consumption." Other books include The Instinct of Workmanship and the State of the Industrial Arts (1915) and The Engineers and the Price System (1921).

After retiring from a teaching career that included tenures at the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the Uni­versity of Wisconsin, and The New School for Social Research in New York City, Veblen died near Menlo Park, California,  on August 3, 1929.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781573922197
ISBN-10: 1573922196
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 1998
Pages: 404
Language: English
Series: Great Minds

Membership Benefits


 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card