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Distributed for Black Rose Books

Thorstein Veblen and the American Way of Life

Louis Patsouras unravels the riddled reputation of Thorstein Veblen and analyzes his varied and important contributions to modern social theory. Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) was an unrelenting critic of the American way of life. In his first and best-known work, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Veblen defined the social attitudes and values that condoned the misuse of wealth and the variety of ways in which the resources of modern society were wasted. Though most famous for the term "conspicuous consumption"--a pattern of consumerism that more than survives to the present day--he also attacked other American institutions and traditions, but his ideas on society were often dismissed because of his reputation as an eccentric. Although unsuccessful in his university career, in his two marriages, and in his private life, in his books Veblen shone. Thorstein Veblen remains a baffling figure in American intellectual history, and this important work, undertaken by Louis Patsouras, attempts both to unravel the riddles that surround his reputation and to assess his varied and important contributions to modern social theory. By setting Veblen’s work in its social and intellectual context, and by considering Veblen not just as an economist or a sociologist--as has been the case up to now--Patsouras also examines Veblen’s politics, in particular the early manifestations of American socialism and anarchism, as well as his support of labor unions. Veblen’s views are then compared and contrasted with other well-known historical and contemporary thinkers.In this process, Patsouras makes clear just how vital Veblen was and remains to our cultural and political landscape and why it is that through an understanding of Veblen we can move toward an understanding of modern America. LOUIS PATSOURAS is Professor of History at Kent State University. His other published works include Simone Weil and the Socialist Tradition, The Crucible of Socialism, Debating Marx, Essays on Socialism, Continuity and Change in Marxism and The Anarchism of Jean Grave.

296 pages | 6 x 9

Biography and Letters

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

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Table of Contents

Preface Part I The Making of a Revolutionary Soicialist I Thorstein Veblen: An Overview II Selected Background on Radicalism and Socialism III Early Writings on Socialism IV The American Plutocracy and the Theory of the Leisure Class V Critique of Marx VI The American Working Class, Labor Unions, American Anarchism, and the IWW VII Populism, Progressive Movement, and American Socialism, 1892-1917 VIII Veblen, Communist Revolution, and American Socialism’s Demise Part II Veblen and Problems of Socialism IX Capitalist Versus Veblen’s Socialist Economics X Human Nature, Intelligence, and Class Struggle XI Alienation/Oppression and Economics XII The Second Sex XIII Imperialism XIV The Riddle of Religion XV Higher Education XVI Historical Progression XVII Critiques of and Importance of Veblen Index

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