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Veblen: The Making of an Economist Who Unmade Economics

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A bold new biography of the thinker who demolished accepted economic theories in order to expose how people of economic and social privilege plunder their wealth from society's productive men and women. Thorstein Veblen was one of America's most penetrating analysts of modern capitalist society. But he was not, as is widely assumed, an outsider to the social world he acidly A bold new biography of the thinker who demolished accepted economic theories in order to expose how people of economic and social privilege plunder their wealth from society's productive men and women. Thorstein Veblen was one of America's most penetrating analysts of modern capitalist society. But he was not, as is widely assumed, an outsider to the social world he acidly described. Veblen overturns the long-accepted view that Veblen's ideas, including his insights about conspicuous consumption and the leisure class, derived from his position as a social outsider. In the hinterlands of America's Midwest, Veblen's schooling coincided with the late nineteenth-century revolution in higher education that occurred under the patronage of the titans of the new industrial age. The resulting educational opportunities carried Veblen from local Carleton College to centers of scholarship at Johns Hopkins, Yale, Cornell, and the University of Chicago, where he studied with leading philosophers, historians, and economists. Afterward, he joined the nation's academic elite as a professional economist, producing his seminal books The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise. Until late in his career, Veblen was, Charles Camic argues, the consummate academic insider, engaged in debates about wealth distribution raging in the field of economics. Veblen demonstrates how Veblen's education and subsequent involvement in those debates gave rise to his original ideas about the social institutions that enable wealthy Americans--a swarm of economically unproductive "parasites"—to amass vast fortunes on the backs of productive men and women. Today, when great wealth inequalities again command national attention, Camic helps us understand the historical roots and continuing reach of Veblen's searing analysis of this "sclerosis of the American soul."


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A bold new biography of the thinker who demolished accepted economic theories in order to expose how people of economic and social privilege plunder their wealth from society's productive men and women. Thorstein Veblen was one of America's most penetrating analysts of modern capitalist society. But he was not, as is widely assumed, an outsider to the social world he acidly A bold new biography of the thinker who demolished accepted economic theories in order to expose how people of economic and social privilege plunder their wealth from society's productive men and women. Thorstein Veblen was one of America's most penetrating analysts of modern capitalist society. But he was not, as is widely assumed, an outsider to the social world he acidly described. Veblen overturns the long-accepted view that Veblen's ideas, including his insights about conspicuous consumption and the leisure class, derived from his position as a social outsider. In the hinterlands of America's Midwest, Veblen's schooling coincided with the late nineteenth-century revolution in higher education that occurred under the patronage of the titans of the new industrial age. The resulting educational opportunities carried Veblen from local Carleton College to centers of scholarship at Johns Hopkins, Yale, Cornell, and the University of Chicago, where he studied with leading philosophers, historians, and economists. Afterward, he joined the nation's academic elite as a professional economist, producing his seminal books The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise. Until late in his career, Veblen was, Charles Camic argues, the consummate academic insider, engaged in debates about wealth distribution raging in the field of economics. Veblen demonstrates how Veblen's education and subsequent involvement in those debates gave rise to his original ideas about the social institutions that enable wealthy Americans--a swarm of economically unproductive "parasites"—to amass vast fortunes on the backs of productive men and women. Today, when great wealth inequalities again command national attention, Camic helps us understand the historical roots and continuing reach of Veblen's searing analysis of this "sclerosis of the American soul."

33 review for Veblen: The Making of an Economist Who Unmade Economics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Take time on this one, it has so much in it - you can be back in Minnesota where Veblen's parents insisted their daughters as well as their sons went to college, or encountering new cities and universities as Veblen traveled to them ... fascinating for anyone interested in how ideas can grow out of deep roots in education. Loved the sense of places and times, and nerdish delight in hearing about the way Veblen navigated an academic career that meandered all over while still charting a coherent p Take time on this one, it has so much in it - you can be back in Minnesota where Veblen's parents insisted their daughters as well as their sons went to college, or encountering new cities and universities as Veblen traveled to them ... fascinating for anyone interested in how ideas can grow out of deep roots in education. Loved the sense of places and times, and nerdish delight in hearing about the way Veblen navigated an academic career that meandered all over while still charting a coherent path. Also very true to the way of thinking of the time, and not teleological in telling a story whose ending Veblen didn't know at the time -- just as none of us does. It's hard to do that! Beautifully written. Will definitely read it again, it's like a feast you have to take time to really absorb in full.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric Bottorff

  3. 4 out of 5

    Randolph

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    Susannah

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    Susan Hanson-Holtz

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    Ben

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    Kusaimamekirai

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    Melisa

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    Mads Henrik

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    Wihan Marais

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    Ina Cawl

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aishwarya Sharma

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    Ayushmaan

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    Sudha Hariharan

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    Clyde Macalister

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    Izzy Kates

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    Sam Seitz

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    Agustin Reyna

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    Les Nicholls

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    Salvatore Genuensis

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    Michelle Hogmire

  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 5 out of 5

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  32. 5 out of 5

    Connor Halm

  33. 4 out of 5

    Debdut Mukherjee

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