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The Theory of the Leisure Class

The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
By: (1857-1929)

Originally published by the Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago in 1898, the 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. [Summary modified from Wikipedia.]

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THE THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS

by Thorstein Veblen

Chapter One ~~ Introductory

The institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture; as, for instance, in feudal Europe or feudal Japan. In such communities the distinction between classes is very rigorously observed; and the feature of most striking economic significance in these class differences is the distinction maintained between the employments proper to the several classes. The upper classes are by custom exempt or excluded from industrial occupations, and are reserved for certain employments to which a degree of honour attaches. Chief among the honourable employments in any feudal community is warfare; and priestly service is commonly second to warfare. If the barbarian community is not notably warlike, the priestly office may take the precedence, with that of the warrior second. But the rule holds with but slight exceptions that, whether warriors or priests, the upper classes are exempt from industrial employments, and this exemption is the economic expression of their superior rank... Continue reading book >>


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