Thorstein Veblen (Thorstein Bunde Veblen) Biography
(1857–1929), (Thorstein Bunde Veblen), The Theory of the Leisure Class, The Theory of Business Enterprise
American economist and social commentator, born in Cato, Wisconsin, educated at Johns Hopkins University and Yale. From 1891 onward, he held posts at the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of Missouri, and the New School for Social Research, New York. The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), his first and best-known work, offered a critical analysis of affluence as a major determinant of social values. The treatment of the price system in The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) established the distinction between production and control of production that is central to The Instinct of Workmanship (1914), The Vested Interests and the State of the Industrial Arts (1919), and Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise (1923). In The Place of Science in Modern Civilization (1919) and The Engineers and the Price System (1921) he denounced capitalism as parasitic upon labour and scientific development, and envisioned a technocratic future in which politicians and financiers would cease to exercise control. Much of Veblen's thought, expressed in an accessible and ironically persuasive style, has become integral to modern sociological analysis. David Riesman's Thorstein Veblen appeared in 1953.