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wish to conform to the accepted standards of society. Veblen was against wastefully expenses such as owning pets and using beauty products. The leisure class is associated with waste and stands opposite to the needs of society in terms of efficiently distributing goods.
In order to examine the consumption and leisure habits of the leisure class, Veblen must look at their lifestyles. In doing so, he examines not only their characteristics but also their activities, manner of dress, religions, and pursuit of activities of higher learning. He views the activities and spending habits of this leisure class. Veblen says, “The range of employments open to them is rigidly defined. As on the higher plane already spoken of, these employments are government, warfare, religious observances, and sports. These four lines of activity govern the scheme of life of the upper classes, and for the highest rank- the kings or chieftains these are the only kinds of activity that custom or the common sense of the community will allow. Indeed, where the scheme is well developed even sports are accounted doubtfully legitimate for the members of the highest rank” (Veblen 8). In this quote, Veblen argues that having certain occupations is indicative of one’s membership within a leisure class. By having the leisure class defined not by what they own, but instead what they do and the role they play in society, it makes a socio-cultural argument.
1. Conspicuous Consumption and Conspicuous Leisure
Veblen’s term conspicuous consumption has become part of everyday language.
Conspicuous consumption describes a method of showing off one’s wealth by an elaborate consumption of goods. It is a means b...
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... were known as the “nouveaux riches” because they worked for their money and didn’t get it from anywhere. They didn’t inherit it from anywhere like the aristocrats did. A modern day example of this would be J.K. Rowling versus the Queen. J.K. Rowling is considered a “nouveaux rich” because she made “new money” opposed to the Queen who has “old money” because she inherited it.
Three elements that are significant to his thoughts are conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure, industrial and pecuniary pursuits, and aristocrats and nouveau riches. A huge significance that came from these three thoughts is his main piece of work the Theory of the Leisure Class. Had it not been for these elements of his then his work would definitely not be what it is. Thornstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class is a valuable contribution to our understanding of capitalism.
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