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Encyclopedia > Thorstein Veblen
History of economics
Institutional economics
Thorstein Bunde Veblen (1857-1929)
Name: Thorstein Veblen
Birth: October 30, 1857 (Cato, Wisconsin)
Death: August 3, 1929
Nationality: Norwegian-American
Field: evolutionary economics
Influences: Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner, William James, Georges Vacher de Lapouge[1]
Opposed: Karl Marx, Neoclassical economics, German historical school
Influenced: Wesley Clair Mitchell, Clarence Edwin Ayres, John Kenneth Galbraith, C. Wright Mills, Robert A. Brady
Contributions: conspicuous consumption, penalty of taking the lead, ceremonial / instrumental dichotomy

Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Tosten Bunde Veblen July 30, 1857August 3, 1929) was a Norwegian-American sociologist and economist and a founder, along with John R. Commons, of the Institutional economics movement. He was an impassioned critic of the performance of the American economy, and is most famous for his book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). It has been suggested that Economic schools of thought be merged into this article or section. ... Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of human-made institutions in shaping economic behavior. ... This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Cato is a town located in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. ... Evolutionary economics is a relatively new economic methodology that is modeled on biology. ... Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher and prominent classic-liberal political theorist. ... William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) was the leading American advocate of a free-trade industrial society, which is what he believed the socialists meant by capitalism. ... For other people named William James see William James (disambiguation) William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was a German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Neoclassical economics refers to a general approach (a metatheory) to economics based on supply and demand which depends on individuals (or any economic agent) operating rationally, each seeking to maximize their individual utility or profit by making choices based on available information. ... The Historical school of economics was a mainly German school of economic thought which held that a study of history was the key source of knowledge about human actions and economic matters, since economics would be culture-specific and not generalizable over space and time. ... Wesley Clair Mitchell (August 5, 1874 – October 29, 1948) was an American economist known for his empirical work on business cycles and for guiding the National Bureau of Economic Research in its first decades. ... Clarence Edwin Ayres was the principal thinker in the Texas school of Institutional Economics, during the middle of the 20th century. ... John Kenneth Galbraith John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908–April 29, 2006) was an influential Canadian-American economist. ... Charles Wright Mills (August 27, 1916, Waco, Texas – March 20, 1962, Nyack, New York) was an American sociologist. ... Robert A. Brady (b. ... Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services that are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. ... The backwardness model is a theory of economic growth created by Alexander Gerschenkron. ... July 30 is the 211th day (212th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 154 days remaining. ... 1857 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... August 3 is the 215th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (216th in leap years), with 150 days remaining. ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Alan Greenspan, former chairman, United States Federal Reserve. ... John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was a well-known institutional economist at the University of Wisconsin. ... Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of human-made institutions in shaping economic behavior. ... The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ...

Contents

Biography

Veblen was born in Cato, Wisconsin, of Norwegian immigrant parents; his nephew Oswald Veblen became a famous mathematician. While Norwegian was his first language, he learned English both from neighbors and from school, which he began at the age of 5.[2] His family was highly successful and placed great emphasis on education and hard work, all of which undoubtedly contributed to his later scorn for what he termed the “conspicuous consumption” and waste of the gilded age.[3] Cato is a town located in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. ... Oswald Veblen (24 June 1880 - 10 August 1960) was an American mathematician. ... Leonhard Euler is considered by many to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time A mathematician is the person whose primary area of study and research is the field of mathematics. ... Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services that are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. ...


He obtained his B.A. at Carleton College (1880), under John Bates Clark, a leading economist in the emerging body of thought now identified as neoclassical economics. He did graduate work at Johns Hopkins University under Charles Sanders Peirce, the founder of the pragmatist school in philosophy, and subsequently received his Ph.D. (1884) at Yale University, under the direction of William Graham Sumner, a proponent of laissez-faire economic policies.[4] Perhaps the most important intellectual influence on Veblen was Herbert Spencer, whose work in the last half of the 19th century sparked an enormous interest in the evolutionary perspective on human societies.[5] Bachelor of Arts (B.A., BA or A.B.), from the Latin Artium Baccalaureus is an undergraduate bachelors degree awarded for either a course or a program in the liberal arts or the sciences, or both. ... Skinner Memorial Chapel, Carleton College Carleton College is an independent, non-sectarian, coeducational, highly-selective, liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota, USA. The school was founded on November 14, 1866, by the Minnesota Conference of Congregational Churches as Northfield College. ... John Bates Clark John Bates Clark (26 January 1847 – 21 March 1938) was an American neo-classical economist. ... Neoclassical economics refers to a general approach (a metatheory) to economics based on supply and demand which depends on individuals (or any economic agent) operating rationally, each seeking to maximize their individual utility or profit by making choices based on available information. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American logician, philosopher, scientist, and mathematician. ... Pragmatism is a school of epistemology that originated with Charles Sanders Peirce (who first stated the pragmatic maxim) and came to fruition in the early twentieth-century philosophies of William James and John Dewey. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. ... “Yale” redirects here. ... William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) was the leading American advocate of a free-trade industrial society, which is what he believed the socialists meant by capitalism. ... Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher and prominent classic-liberal political theorist. ...


From 1891 to 1892, after six years spent reading voluminously at the family farm, Veblen continued studying as a graduate student, now in economics, at Cornell University under James Laurence Laughlin.[6] Cornell University is a private university located in Ithaca, New York, USA. Its two medical campuses are in New York City and in Education City, Qatar. ... James Laurence Laughlin (April 2, 1850 - November 28, 1933) was a U.S. economist who helped to found the Federal Reserve System. ...


In 1892, he became a professor at the newly-opened University of Chicago, simultaneously serving as managing editor of the Journal of Political Economy. In 1906, he received an appointment at Stanford University, where he left, it is often written, because of “womanizing.” Though the myth lives on, it seems more likely that rumors that had followed him from the University of Chicago where difficulties with his eccentric first wife had led some to see him, probably wrongly, as a roué, were used to help terminate the employment of a man, equally eccentric, who was widely regarded as a poor teacher and a radical critic.[7] The University of Chicago is an elite private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. ... The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly known as Stanford University (or simply Stanford), is a private university located approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles northwest of San José in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County. ...


In 1911, Veblen joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he had support from Herbert Davenport, the head of the economics department. Veblen was not fond of Columbia, Missouri, but remained there through 1918. In that year, he moved to New York to begin work as an editor of a magazine called The Dial, and then in 1919, along with Charles Beard, James Harvey Robinson and John Dewey, helped found the New School for Social Research (known today as The New School). He was also part of the Technical Alliance, created in 1918-19 by Howard Scott, which would later became the Technocratic movement. From 1919 through 1926 Veblen continued to write and to be involved in various activities at The New School.[8] The University of Missouri-Columbia (abbreviated UMC and nicknamed Mizzou) is an institution of higher learning located in Columbia, Missouri and is the main campus in the University of Missouri system. ... Herbert Joseph Davenport (1861-1931) was an American economist. ... Nickname: Location in the state of Missouri Coordinates: Country United States State Missouri County Boone Government  - Mayor Darwin Hindman Area  - City  59 sq mi (138. ... Charles Austin Beard (November 27, 1874 _ September 1, 1948) was an American historian, author with James Harvey Robinson of The Development of Modern Europe (1907). ... James Harvey Robinson (1863–1936) was an American historian. ... John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have been greatly influential in the United States and around the world. ... The New School is an institution of higher learning in New York City, located around Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. ... The Technical Alliance formed at the end of World War I was one of Americas first think tanks. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... A sign on the outskirts of a Depression-era town proclaims regular Monday meetings of the local branch of Technocracy. ...


In 1927 Veblen returned to the property that he still owned in Palo Alto and died there in 1929.[9]


Veblen’s Writing

Veblen developed a 20th century evolutionary economics based upon the new ideas emerging from anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Unlike the neoclassical economics that was emerging at the same time, Veblen described economic behavior as socially rather than individually determined and saw economic organization as a process of ongoing evolution. This evolution was driven by the human instincts of emulation, predation, workmanship, parental bent, and idle curiosity. Veblen wanted economists to grasp the effects of social and cultural change on economic changes. In The Theory of the Leisure Class, which is probably his best-known work, because of its satiric look at American society, the instincts of emulation and predation play a major role. People, rich and poor alike, attempt to impress others and seek to gain advantage through what Veblen coined "conspicuous consumption" and the ability to engage in “conspicuous leisure.” In this work Veblen argued that consumption is used as a way to gain and signal status. Through "conspicuous consumption" often came "conspicuous waste," which Veblen detested. Much of modern advertising is built upon a Veblenian notion of consumption. Evolutionary economics is a relatively new economic methodology that is modeled on biology. ... Anthropology is the study of the physical and social characteristics of humanity through the examination of historical and present geographical distribution, cultural history, acculturation, and cultural relationships. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Psychology is an academic or applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. ... Neoclassical economics refers to a general approach (a metatheory) to economics based on supply and demand which depends on individuals (or any economic agent) operating rationally, each seeking to maximize their individual utility or profit by making choices based on available information. ... This article is about emulation in computer science. ... A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk eating a California Vole In ecology, predation describes a biological interaction where a predator species kills and eats other organisms, known as prey. ... The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ...


In The Theory of Business Enterprise, which was published in 1904, at the height of American concern with the growth of business combinations and trusts, Veblen employed his evolutionary analysis to explain these new forms. He saw them as a consequence of the growth of industrial processes in a context of small business firms that had evolved earlier to organize craft production. The new industrial processes impelled integration and provided lucrative opportunities for those who managed it. What resulted, as Veblen saw it, a conflict between businessmen and engineers, with businessmen representing the older order and engineers as the innovators of new ways of doing things. In combination with the tendencies described in The Theory of the Leisure Class, this conflict resulted in waste and “predation” that served to enhance the social status of those who could benefit from predatory claims to goods and services. The Theory of Business Enterprise is a book by Thorstein Veblen published in 1904. ... The term trust has several meanings: In sociology, trust is willing acceptance of one persons power to affect another. ... The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ...


Veblen generalized the conflict between businessmen and engineers by saying that human society would always involve conflict between vested interests and new forms developed out of an innate human tendency to manipulate and learn about the physical world in which we exist. He also generalized his model to include his theory of instincts, processes of evolution as absorbed from Sumner, as enhanced by his own reading of evolutionary science, and Pragmatic philosophy first learned from Peirce. The instinct of idle curiosity led humans to manipulate nature in new ways and this led to changes in what he called the material means of life. Because, as per the Pragmatists, our ideas about the world are a human construct rather than mirrors of reality, changing ways of manipulating nature lead to changing constructs and to changing notions of truth and authority as well as patterns of behavior (institutions). Societies and economies evolve as a consequence, but do so via a process of conflict between vested interests and older forms and the new. Veblen never wrote with any confidence that the new ways were better ways, but he was sure in the last three decades of his life that the American economy could have, in the absence of vested interests, produced more for more people. In the years just after World War I he looked to engineers to make the American economy more efficient.


In addition to The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise, Veblen’s monograph "Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution," and his many essays, including “Why Is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science,” and “The Place of Science in Modern Society,” remain influential. The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ... The Theory of Business Enterprise is a book by Thorstein Veblen published in 1904. ...


Veblen’s Intellectual Legacy

In spite of difficulties of sometimes archaic language caused in large part by Veblen’s struggles with the terminology of unilinear evolution and of biological determination of social variation that still dominated social thought when he began to write, Veblen’s work remains relevant, and not simply for the phrase “conspicuous consumption.” His evolutionary approach to the study of economic systems is once again in vogue and his model of recurring conflict between the existing order and new ways can be of great value in understanding the new global economy.


Veblen, as noted, is regarded as one of the co-founders (with John R. Commons, Wesley C. Mitchell, and others) of the American school of Institutional economics. Present-day practitioners who adhere to this school organise themselves in The Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) and the Association for Institutional Economics (AFIT). AFEE gives an annual Veblen-Commons (see John R. Commons) award for work in Institutional Economics and publishes the Journal of Economic Issues. Some unaligned practitioners include theorists of the concept of "differential accumulation".[citation needed] Veblen’s legacy has also been claimed by those involved with technocracy and his work is often cited in treatments of American literature[10]. John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was a well-known institutional economist at the University of Wisconsin. ... Wesley Clair Mitchell (August 5, 1874 – October 29, 1948) was an American economist known for his empirical work on business cycles and for guiding the National Bureau of Economic Research in its first decades. ... Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of human-made institutions in shaping economic behavior. ... John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was a well-known institutional economist at the University of Wisconsin. ... Differential Accumulation is a new approach for analysing capitalist development and crisis, tying together mergers and acquisitions, stagflation and globalization as integral facets of accumulation. ...


Notes

  1. ^ Veblen, Thorstein. 1898. "Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science." The Quarterly Journal of Economics.Volume 12, 1898.
  2. ^ Bartley 1997
  3. ^ Dorfman 1934
  4. ^ Dorfman 1934
  5. ^ Eff 1989
  6. ^ Dorfman 1934
  7. ^ Jorgensen and Jorgensen 1999
  8. ^ Dorfman 1934
  9. ^ Dorfman 1934
  10. ^ Thorstein Veblen is featured in The Big Money by John Dos Passos.

John Rodrigo Dos Passos (January 14, 1896 — September 28, 1970) was an important Portuguese-American novelist and artist. ...

Major works of Thorstein Veblen

The Journal of Race Development was the first American journal of international relations. ... The Journal of Race Development was the first American journal of international relations. ... Laxdæla saga is the saga of the clan/family of Laxdal. ...

Secondary sources

  • Bartley, Russel H. 1997. "In Search of Thorstein Veblen: Further Inquiries into His Life and Work." International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society.11(January):129-173.
  • Dorfman, Joseph. 1934. Thorstein Veblen and His America. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0678000077
  • Dugger, William M. 2006. "Veblen's Radical Theory of Social Evolution." Journal of Economic Issues.40(September):651-72.
  • Eff, E. Anthon. 1989. "History of Thought as Ceremonial Genealogy: The Neglected Influence of Herbert Spencer on Thorstein Veblen." Journal of Economic Issues. 23 (September): 689-716.
  • Hodgson, G. "On the Evolution of Thorstein Veblen's Evolutionary Economics" in Cambridge Journal of Economics. 22(4):415-431.
  • Jorgensen, Elizabeth Watkins and Henry Irvin Jorgensen. 1999, Thorstein Veblen: Victorian Firebrand, M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 076560258X
  • Knoedler, Janet T. 1997. "Veblen and Technical Efficiency." Journal of Economic Issues. 31(?):???-???.
  • McCormick, Ken. 2006. "Veblen in Plain English," Cambria Press. ISBN 0977356760
  • Tilman, Rick. 1992. Thorstein Veblen and His Critics, 1891-1963. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691042861
  • Tilman, Rick. 1996. The Intellectual Legacy of Thorstein Veblen: Unresolved Issues.Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313299463

See also

The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ... A sign on the outskirts of a Depression-era town proclaims regular Monday meetings of the local branch of Technocracy. ... A commodity is a Veblen good if peoples preference for buying it increases as a direct function of its price. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Thorstein Veblen - MSN Encarta (314 words)
Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929), American economist and social scientist, notable for his historical investigation of the economic structure of society and for his analysis of the contemporary economic system.
Thorstein Bunde Veblen was born in Cato, Wisconsin, and educated at Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota, and at Johns Hopkins, Yale, and Cornell universities.
Veblen maintained in other writings that the economic system of his day was based on price fluctuations and suggested that the inefficiency of the system be corrected by placing experts in charge of production and distribution.
Biographies: The Economists: Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). (421 words)
Veblen's theory of the leisure class is to be compared to that of Marx's theory.
Veblen, however, was of the view that the lower classes were not out to overthrow the upper class; but, rather, strived to climb up to it.
In 1906, Veblen was to move on, eventually to teach at Stanford and then at the University of Missouri (1911).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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