The Theory of the Leisure Class, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


'Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.' In The Theory of the Leisure Class Thorstein Veblen sets out 'to discuss the place and value of the leisure class as an economic factor in modern life'. In so doing he produced a landmark study of affluent American society that exposes, with brilliant ruthlessness, the habits of production and waste that link invidious business tactics and barbaric social behaviour. Veblen's analysis of the evolutionary process sees greed as the overriding motive in the modern economy; with an impartial gaze he examines the human cost paid when social institutions exploit the consumption of unessential goods for the sake of personal profit. Fashion, beauty, animals, sports, the home, the clergy, scholars - all are assessed for their true usefulness and found wanting. The targets of Veblen's coruscating satire are as evident today as they were a century ago, and his book still has the power to shock and enlighten. Veblen's uncompromising arguments and the influential literary force of his writing are assessed in Martha Banta's Introduction. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe.

Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Cultural studies
  • ISBN: 9780199552580

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I'm not versed in economic theory, so I was worried about making it through this one, but it ended up being extremely readable. It's a bit flat to read in long marathon sessions instead of a chapter here and there, but Veblen does a good job of balancing much needed explanation with more technical discussions of terminology and historical development. At times, there's some repetition, but for the most part it's necessary (at least for a layperson like myself). It's dry at times, but at other times it's a bit horrifying, especially when you realize that much of Veblen's discussion can apply to our society, despite the passage of time. In the end, I do recommed this if you're interested in American History or the economic drives behind society and societal norms--at times, it really is frightening how on target Veblen's analysis seems in the connections he makes.

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