Introduction to "Knowledge, Finance and Consumption in Veblen's Thought"
Veblen’s contribution to economic theory has received renewed interest (see, among others, Tilman, 2003), with particular reference to two distinct aspects. First, his approach to institutions – defined as a “special method of life and of human relations” (Veblen,  1975, 188) – has been re-proposed within the so-called new Institutionalism, with the aim of presenting a theory of economic behaviour (where instincts, habits, customs and transaction costs play a pivotal role) opposed to the mainstream “rational choice” view (see Hodgson, 1988). Second, attention has been devoted to his arguments on “conspicuous consumption” and emulation as well as the relation between consumption by the “leisure class” and the process of income distribution (see, among others, Bowles and Park, 2007). There is no doubt that Veblen provides significant economic and sociological categories which can also be useful in interpreting current macroeconomic dynamics, and that his theories on the functioning of the firm and on the path of income distribution are still relevant in the current context of global crisis. This special issue collects contributions of historians of economic thought, economists and sociologists specifically inte rested in using Veblen’s theories to interpret current phenomena. Marc-André Gagnon and Dimitri della Faille in “Thorstein Veblen, économiste iconoclaste” discuss the complexity of Veblenian thought, finding connections between biographical aspects of the American economist and the theoretical elements that characterize his works. In the central part of the article the authors analyze the theory of society’s socio-economic evolution and Veblen’s institutional theory highlighting the complex relationship that his thought has with the theory of evolution of C. Darwin and of H. Spencer. The article concludes with the lines of research that Veblen’s thought has left in inheritance to contemporary scholars. The contribution of John F. Henry sheds light on Thorstein Veblen’s political orientation. In the first section of “The political orientation of Thorstein Veblen” Henry provides a reconstruction of the Veblenian view on the functioning of a capitalist system, based on predatory exploitation by a ruling class over the working class, with selfless public welfare being interpreted as a political position close to Marx. In the second and final section of the article, the author shows that although Veblen did not consider himself Marxist and never openly declared his political position, he sympathized with the Bolshevik revolution and specifically observed the role of the soviet technician as a possible tool to overcome the inefficiency, waste and parasitism of the capitalist system. In conclusion the author points out the “marked similarity between the general theory of Marx and Veblen.”
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ris:ejessy:0007. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Stefano Lucarelli)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.