CST11.Sum.Veblen - Classical Sociological Theory 4e Ritzer...

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Classical Sociological Theory, 4e Ritzer Thorstein Veblen Classical Sociological Theory Chapter 11 CHAPTER SUMMARY Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) is known in sociology for his famous work on conspicuous consumption. He also shares with the classical theorists of his day a focal interest in issues relating to production, especially the contradiction between the potential of industrial production to fulfill society’s needs and the interests of businessmen to earn a profit. Intellectual Influences Veblen’s work is influenced by a range of social thinkers, including Karl Marx, evolutionary thinkers like Herbert Spencer, and economists like Adam Smith. Both Veblen and Marx share a materialist perspective that holds that society is shaped by the means of procuring a livelihood. Yet, while Marx thought that labor was the creative force in society, Veblen sees the industrial arts, especially technology, as creative forces. Influenced by Darwin and the Social Darwinists, Veblen views society as being dominated by the struggle for existence, with the fittest social institutions and habits of thought surviving. Still, the selective adaptation that lies at the core of evolution is never totally successful, because institutions adapted from the past can never catch up with changing social circumstances. Veblen’s two-stage model of social evolution posits the development from primitive societies characterized by peace and cooperation, and predatory barbarism characterized by its warlike and competitive character. A key aspect of this process is the shift from free workmanship in primitive societies to the control of industry by pecuniary interests under barbarism. Although Veblen was known in his lifetime as an economist, he thought that most economic theory was static, hedonistic, rationalistic, teleological, and deductive. His work sought to focus on larger cultural and institutional issues instead of making theoretical deductions.
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