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SOCIAL CLASS IN THE UNITED STATES Thorsten Veblen (1857-1929)— The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)— looked a development of classes in terms of time, in the midst of the robber baron period created by the rise of industrialism and the modern corporation and banking/investment system— Veblen was also challenged by Darwin and Herbert Spencer, who theories of evolution led to a social Darwinism that justified the growing inequalities as “natural”— Veblen found that in primitive societies, the development of a wealthy class meant the availability of leisure time, and what Veblen found most remarkable, was that the working classes accepted this inequality—for Veblen, the accumulation of wealth became an end in itself, even if the individual could never spend all of the money—he created the term conspicuous consumption (“if you got it, flaunt it”) to demonstrate how the wealthy try to gain a social advantage and social status by spending money—also created conspicuous leisure
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