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Conspicuous Consumption (Penguin Great Ideas) Paperback – May 30, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Great Ideas... is the right name for these slim, elegant paperbacks... They are written with precision, force, and care. ("The Wall Street Journal") Penguin Books hopes to provide an economical remedy for time-pressed readers in search of intellectual sustenance. ("USA Today")

About the Author

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) was perhaps the most famous American economist and social critic of his time. He taught at the universities of Chicago and Missouri, Stanford University, and the New School for Social Research. His many books include The Theory of Business Enterprise, The Higher Learning in America, and The Theory of the Leisure Class, all available from Transaction.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Great Ideas
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 58335th edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143037595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037590
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.3 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By RenaissanceMan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books that was written about 100 years ago but which turns your head in terms of how society and high society works. It answers some questions on why people wear luxuries and the rules of polite society.

If you get this book, consider also reading The Theory of the Leisure Class (Oxford World's Classics). At times when reading both the Conspicuous Consumption and The Theory of the Liesure Class you might think that the books are very outmoded but at the same time you recognize that there is a strata of society that still behaves by some of these rules today.

Definitely, if you're looking to understand the finer nuances of high society, your education is not complete until you read both Conspicious Consumption and the Theory of the Liesure Class.

I was studying the behavior of royalty in ancient societies and wanted to do a bit of research into the parallels of modern Western society -- lets just say I received quite a bit of insight from these two works. Consider them.
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Format: Paperback
I last read this work whilst reading for my first bachelor's degree during the History of Economic Thought sections. It was one of those books which was instrumental in the development of a broader class of study, in this case Institutionalism, and the novelty of the idea was something which caught on and grew and developed.

Rereading it now, I was struck immediately by the sheer verbosity of the text. If my friend Arthur Seldon, once the Editorial Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, had applied his skills to it, it probably would have been too short to be a Reader's Digest Edition.

However, Veblen's hypothesis begins from a division of a society into classes based on power, a power derived from prowess in hunting and the accumulation of assets, specifically trophies and women. The latter are described as chattels, an idea which remains in western societies today, although the accumulation of status for women who consort with men with power enables some power to transfer to them but it remains only available to them effectively as a loan.

The logic which is followed reminds me of the work of von Mises, in it's a priori approach, but at it's conclusion there are many fundamentally unanswered questions. Veblen writes as though there is general acceptance of these processes without any rational other than the assumption that there are inherent tendencies within men which find expression in the accumulation process as he sets out. This assumption is debatable however. He produces no evidence to support his hypothesis and perhaps this area should be left more to anthropologists for further study. Neither does it deal with a basic notion of individuals voluntarily exchanging with each other.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
even though this was written close to a hundred years ago it is still so true today. the leisure class in all its wasteful and unproductive glory. even a conservative could like this book.
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Format: Paperback
It's a classic.
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