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"The most impressive satirist of his day." — Time Magazine
With devastating satiric wit, this book examines the hollowness and falsity suggested by the term "conspicuous consumption" (coined by Veblen) and exposes the emptiness of many cherished standards of taste, education, dress, and culture. Since its original publication in 1899, the work has become a classic of social and economic thought and policy and exerted an influence widely felt beyond the sphere of economics.
For Veblen, the shallowness and superficiality of society resulted from the tendency to believe that true accomplishment lay in arriving at a condition of ostentatious wealth and status. In developing this thesis, he traces the origins and development of ownership and property, offering extraordinary insights into the phenomenon of consumerism, the evolution of class structure, the rise of leisure time and how modern societal goals are grounded in pecuniary aspirations and achievements.
Students, sociologists, historians, economists — anyone interested in the motives and behavior of human beings within a large-scale social context — will find this time-honored investigation still relevant and readable over a century after its first appearance. It belongs in the library of every thinking person.