Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Theory of the Leisure Class” as Want to Read:
The Theory of the Leisure Class
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Theory of the Leisure Class

by
3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,520 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
This classic of economic thought is a scathing critique of American snobbery and wastefulness. Chief among the practices that Veblen so wittily satirizes is "conspicuous consumption", a pattern of behaviour that still flourishes among us.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 27th 1995 by Penguin Classics (first published April 1st 1899)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Theory of the Leisure Class, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Theory of the Leisure Class

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Edward
Introduction
Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Thorstein Bunde Veblen


--The Theory of the Leisure Class

Explanatory Notes
Mark Russell
A dry and difficult read as one must hack one's way through the arcane language and outmoded concepts, but once one does, one discovers a truly interesting approach to economics.

It must have seemed odd to an economist of the early 20th century, at least one capable of transcending the views of his times, that while economics and human prosperity values certain activities (i.e. labor, investment, trade and construction), human society seems to value other activities, most of which are downright
...more
Trevor
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently read Mills’ ‘White Collar’ and couldn’t get over how often he referred to this book. All the same, I hesitated before reading it, not least since my concern that Mills’ book was ‘a bit old’ was obviously multiplied by the age of this one. But this is brilliant. Now, you know when people tell you that you should read a book because it is ‘a classic’ you are likely to think – yeah, that just means you’ve read it and so either want to just show off or you think that ‘if I’ve put myself t ...more
Nicole
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody knows conspicuous consumption, but that is not the idea from this book that should have survived. Sign me up for pecuniary decency any day -- or rather don't, since it is far more insidious and its explanatory value far better.

Our old friend conspicuous consumption appeals to us, taken out of its context, of course, because it looks so much like an individual decision that we can avoid. You add the complete lack of context to the fact that talking about structural issues rather than i
...more
Andrew
So most of the time, he's kind of riffing, but Veblen does his best writing not when he's theorizing about the nature of the leisure class-- after all, his ideas have become so sublimated into social perception at this point, which I guess speaks to their power-- but when he's going into specifics and demonstrating how they correlate to the broader theory. And when his talking points get Victorian (believing in intrinsic and universal aesthetic values, referring to the savage mind), it seems lik ...more
Jan-Maat
Jun 15, 2011 added it
Shelves: society, thinking
Polysyllabic.

Veblen was the stand out interesting figure for me from reading "The Worldly Philosophers" having read that I was led to read "Theory of the Leisure Class". After that I read "The Spirit Level" and you can see ideas like the invidious comparison borne out in some of the findings discussed in that book.
Will
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Woody Guthrie observed, "Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen." Bob Dylan quoted these lyrics and added, "Didn't take too long to find out, just what he was talking about." Thorstein Veblen, who found this situation to be bemusing if absurd, undertook to explain the social conventions and values that lead people to tolerate it. He presented a picture of society in which routine, casual, legally sanctioned predation is the object of honor and adulation.

His explanation i
...more
Erik Graff
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: John Dos Passos
The first thing I ever read of any substance about Veblen was his brief biography in Dos Passos' USA trilogy (The Great American Novel!). It was highly complimentary and its subject was Norwegian and neglected just like me.

I actually got around to reading The Theory of the Leisure Class some time after Dave Schweickart's courses in political economy got me interested in the subject and the reading of Kapital and re-reading of On the Wealth of Nations got me less intimidated by the subject area.

B
...more
Bill FromPA
Conspicuous Leisure
This is the book that coined the term "conspicuous consumption". My own stance in regard to this practice is demonstrated in the fact that I read this book in a "Dover Thrift Edition"; so, I started reading the book with the expectation of it explaining other people's behavior. However, before getting to conspicuous consumption, Veblen describes what he calls "conspicuous leisure"; this is significant time spent in ways which are not aimed a earning money, either immediately o
...more
Sotiris Makrygiannis
I give 4 stars because of what I read in wikipedia about the subject not because I understood the text of this book. The only thing that I remember is that Old man get woman as trophies because that what we have been doing for 1000s of years. I marked the book as re read, so I can go line by line and translate to modern English and learn new words. If your English are not on the level of Oxford professor dont get the unabridged version. If you want to challenge yourself with this version, you ha ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The New Industrial State
  • The Power Elite
  • Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste
  • The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time
  • The Philosophy of Money
  • Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century
  • Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
  • Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist
  • Progress and Poverty
  • From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology
  • The Acquisitive Society
  • The Civilizing Process
  • An Essay on the Principle of Population
  • The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
  • The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry Into a Category of Bourgeois Society
  • The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism
  • Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge
95261
Thorstein (born 'Torsten') Bunde Veblen was a Norwegian-American economist and sociologist. He was famous as a witty critic of capitalism.

Veblen is famous for the idea of "conspicuous consumption". Conspicuous consumption, along with "conspicuous leisure", is performed to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. Veblen explains the concept in his best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (
...more
More about Thorstein Veblen...
“The ceremonial differentiation of the dietary is best seen in the use of intoxicating beverages and narcotics. If these articles of consumption are costly, they are felt to be noble and honorific. Therefore the base classes, primarily the women, practice an enforced continence with respect to these stimulants, except in countries where they are obtainable at a very low cost. From archaic times down through all the length of the patriarchal regime it has been the office of the women to prepare and administer these luxuries, and it has been the perquisite of the men of gentle birth and breeding to consume them. Drunkenness and the other pathological consequences of the free use of stimulants therefore tend in their turn to become honorific, as being a mark, at the second remove, of the superior status of those who are able to afford the indulgence. Infirmities induced by over-indulgence are among some peoples freely recognised as manly attributes. It has even happened that the name for certain diseased conditions of the body arising from such an origin has passed into everyday speech as a synonym for "noble" or "gentle". It is only at a relatively early stage of culture that the symptoms of expensive vice are conventionally accepted as marks of a superior status, and so tend to become virtues and command the deference of the community; but the reputability that attaches to certain expensive vices long retains so much of its force as to appreciably lesson the disapprobation visited upon the men of the wealthy or noble class for any excessive indulgence. The same invidious distinction adds force to the current disapproval of any indulgence of this kind on the part of women, minors, and inferiors. This invidious traditional distinction has not lost its force even among the more advanced peoples of today. Where the example set by the leisure class retains its imperative force in the regulation of the conventionalities, it is observable that the women still in great measure practise the same traditional continence with regard to stimulants.” 5 likes
“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.” 1 likes
More quotes…