The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899) is a treatise of economics and sociology written by the Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen, and social critique of conspicuous consumption as a function of social class and of consumerism, which are social activities derived from the social stratification of people and the division of labor; the social institutions of the feudal period (9th–15th c.) that have continued to the modern era.
|Original title||The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions|
|Genre||Economics and sociology|
Veblen discusses how the pursuit and the possession of wealth affects human behavior, that the contemporary lords of the manor, the businessmen who own the means of production, have employed themselves in the economically unproductive practices of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure, which are useless activities that contribute neither to the economy nor to the material production of the useful goods and services required for the functioning of society. Instead, it is the middle class and working class who are usefully employed in the industrialised, productive occupations that support the whole of society.
Conducted in the late 19th century, Veblen's socio-economic analyses of the business cycles and the consequent price politics of the U.S. economy, and the emergent division of labor, by technocratic speciality—scientist, engineer, technologist, etc.—proved to be accurate sociological predictions of the economic structure of an industrial society.
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