HREQ 3010 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Fast Fashion, Peer Pressure, Thorstein Veblen

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Wednesday November 4th, 2015
Thorstein Veblen: The Leisure Class
- economist
- theory of the leisure class
- Property for, Veblen, had a dual role: one economic and one symbolic
- The leisure class could be defined as “the class of persons exempt from
menial labor and for whom “ the honorable employments” of hunting were
reserved (Sackrey, 95)
Early on, there was a simple division of labor. Men were hunters and women
were gatherers, farmers and preparers of food
- Both aspects were equally indispensible but were not equally honored. The
hunters constituted the first leisure class
- Hunters have high status in a tribal society, with that status comes a class
position, most of the survival aspect is coming from the farms
- Anthropologists argue that women created agriculture because they were
staying in a stable spot while men were hunting, this contributed much more
than hunting
- “Exempt from the more routine and menial tasks necessary for economic
survival; the leisure class was not exempt from all work of any kind, but
instead exempt form manual labor” (Sackrey, 95)
- IN modern society, our modern ranking of professions is based on this
anthropological lineage
- Modern society does not have ‘class of hunters’
- Predatory professions and predatory capitalism
- In modern society, wealth becomes irredeemably tied to honor and status
Conspicuous Consumption
- In order to attain the honor and status of an “upper class”, it is important for
the wealthy ‘to show off their wealth’
- Conspicuous Consumption is the “Way the wealthy demonstrate their wealth,
and thus their success in war- or in business”
- The purpose of this type of consumption is a demonstration of social
difference: “the point of making an expensive purchase is precisely to
demonstrate to those who cannot afford the Lexus or the Mercedes the
superior social status of the conspicuous consumer”
Pecuniary Emulation
- Veblem was a strong critic of the classical economic view that consumers
were solely by rational models of choice. He believed that it ignored the
important of social factors such as “advertising, peer pressure, the symbolic
nature of commodities in a capitalist culture, and many other external
Fast Fashion
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