Thorstein Veblen

Economist, Academic

1857 – 1929

23

Who was Thorstein Veblen?

Thorstein Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and leader 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.

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 where he argued that there was a fundamental split in society between those who make their way via exploit and those who make their way via industry. In early barbarian society this is the difference between the hunter and the gatherer in the tribe, but as society matures it is the difference between the landed gentry and the indentured servant. The titular manifestation of those with the power of exploit is the "leisure class" which is defined by its lack of productive economic activity and its commitment to demonstrations of idleness.

Famous Quotes:

  • Invention is the mother of necessity.

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Born
Jul 30, 1857
Cato
Also known as
  • Veblen Thorstein
  • Thorsten Veblen
Religion
  • Atheism
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Carleton College
  • Cornell University
  • Yale University
Employment
  • University of Missouri–Columbia
  • University of Chicago
  • Stanford University
Lived in
  • Columbia
  • Wisconsin
Died
Aug 3, 1929
Menlo Park

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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