Talk:Thorstein Veblen

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The latest rewrite was constructed by leading Veblen scholars, including Anne Mayhew and other members of the Association For Evolutionary Economics. It is much more accurate and comprehensive than the previous entry, so it should please Veblen scholars. Please contact me if you have any concerns. User: InstyProf. Date: March 14, 2007 InstyProf 16:00, 14 March 2007 (UTC)


The following text is visible if you try to edit this article:

These two paragraphs come from the entry for Evolutionary Economics. Please edit them, or replace them.

Does this mean I can delete these two paragraphs and rewrite this entire entry (with appropriate sources) without someone yelling at me for mass deletion? --L. 13:43, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Biographical Info?[edit]

Thorstein Veblen was an interesting guy, but there's not much biographical information on him here. If someone knows about him, it would be nice if she up a section on it.


What on earth is a "valuational principle?" That's only one of the intrusions of jargon here. Frankly, this article needs a fair deal done to make it truly readable.

well that's fitting for an article on Veblen Burkander 20:39, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Ayresian Dichotomy[edit]

Contrary to popular belief, the Veblenian dichotomy is not between the technological and ceremonial. It is between business and industry. The former was emphasized by Ayres and has become incorrectly associated with the Veblenian dichotomy. Now, I know most (people who claim to be) followers of Veblen accept the incorrect notion of the veblenian dichotomy, so its probably against wikipedia's customs to go and change it completely. However, it should be mentioned that some hold the opposing view. William M. Dugger, one of those who rightly considers the Veblenian dichotomy to be business/industry has won the Veblen-Commons award, a sure sign that this correct view is becoming more common amongst Veblenites. The talk page indicates this entry is getting rewritten. So I won't change it now, but this should probably be considered by whoever rewrites the article. (Unsigned comment from User: 03:31, 8 March 2006)

Actually, you are wrong. Veblen's dichotomy is an instinct dichotomy between the instinct of workmanship and the predatory animus. The instincts are created during a process of evolution (mostly LaMarckian, but also natural selection), and were established during different periods in a conjectural history presented by Velben. In the current period (the machine age), it happens that the instinct of workmanship corresponds to industry, and the predatory animus corresponds to business, so that version of the dichotomy applies only to a specific historical moment. The two poles of the dichotomy are also apparent in many other oppositions in the current period (not just industry/business), such as an occupational dichotomy with one side containing ecclesiastical, legal, and military occupations, and the other side containing scientists, handicraftsmen, and engineers.
By the 1940s, instincts were an archaic concept in social science, and Ayres tried to reframe the dichotomy without instincts, using ideas from John Dewey on instrumental reasoning. Whence his version of the dichotomy, which in the instrumental/ceremonial form is fairly general and quite close to Veblen's view. Bill Dugger, like Veblen, is a socialist (he might not like that label) and he is attracted to Veblen's dichotomy precisely because it seems to rip the veils off of the activities of businessmen, giving credit for our standard of living to skilled workers. I consider his view to be limited to the present period and to have its roots in praxis (that is, an attempt to use Veblen to reshape the world in a better way). I'll write on this as I get time. Anthon.Eff 21:43, 29 December 2006 (UTC)


Does Mencken--a guy who satirized everything and never meant what he said--really deserve credit as an important critic of Veblen? Sure, the contribution by User: Idols of Mud is well-written (and provides a source!), but the whole point of the critique appears to be that Veblen (the Minnesota peasant) has less knowledge of a cow's backside than Mencken (the Baltimore burger), a critique so obviously absurd that it becomes amusing--Mencken's intended effect. Actually, this whole article is kind of a train wreck, but this section about Mencken only makes it worse. Anthon.Eff 15:29, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

New edit deletes this critique. You are correct, it serves no purpose and distracts from the main points of such a page. InstyProf 00:26, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Major rewrite[edit]

InstyProf deleted all of the references in the previous text. I reintroduced them, and added a few more that I was sure of. I also removed a few of his statements. I removed the assertion that Peirce was an important influence on Veblen--unsupported by the biographical sources (check Dorfman), and hard to substantiate by pointing to any specific ideas in Veblen. I also removed some editorializing that didn't seem encyclopedic. Some of InstyProf's statements don't seem correct and I inserted a {{Fact}} tag to signal that I will remove these if a citation doesn't appear. Otherwise, I think InstyProf is doing good work and am glad that he's here. --Anthon.Eff 14:28, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

How formal does the citation need to be? Is it enough to attribute the statements that you flagged as "According to ____ ____", and then to insert the living person who made the statement, given that the living person is a well-resepected Veblen scholar? Or does it have to be a formal citation to a published article? Thanks much for your help!!!! InstyProf 16:25, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Here is the "official" policy: Wikipedia:Attribution. --Anthon.Eff 18:57, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Here are some reponses to your edits.

(1) There is no simple citation to show Peirce's influence on Veblen. So, let's get rid of that. It's widely accepted by many Veblen scholars, but it's probably not crucial. (2) You asked for a citation for the following paragraph: "In 1906, he received an appointment at Stanford University, where he left, it is often written, because of “womanizing.” Though the myth lives on, it seems more likely that rumors that had followed him from the University of Chicago where difficulties with his eccentric first wife had led some to see him, probably wrongly, as a roué, were used to help terminate the employment of a man, equally eccentric, who was widely regarded as a poor teacher and a radical critic." The citation for this argument is the book by Elizabeth Watkins Jorgensen and Henry Irven Jorgensen, _Thorstein Veblen: Victorian Firebrand_, M.E. Sharpe (April 1999), Chaps. 14 - 18. It might be best to remove the last four words and end the sentence with a period after teacher. Although Jorgensen and Jorgensen imply unhappiness over Veblen's lack of intellectual conformity they much more directly say that it was his eccentric dress and poor teaching that cost him support that might have saved him when his first wife came and mounted her attack. But Jorgensen and Jorgensen do provide powerful evidence that Veblen was not the sexual adventurer that he has been thought. (3) "In this work Veblen argued that consumption is used as a way to gain and signal status, but he also argued that all consumption is culturally determined and is used to signal identification with a group. [ citation needed]" The latter part of this sentence is also widely accepted by Veblen scholars, but there is no simple citation, and to establish the truth of the last clause requires a longer argument than is appropriate for Wikipedia. So let's just put a period after "signal status" and leave out the last clause. I hope these changes are acceptable. If so, I'll make them when I get a chance. Thanks, InstyProf 20:06, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I went ahead and made your suggested changes, removing the tags. Thanks! --Anthon.Eff 13:48, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Addition of reference to "differential accumulation"[edit]

Recently, the following text was added to the Veblen page: "Some unaligned practitioners include theorists of the concept of "differential accumulation"." Given that this is not a widely known concept or group, as opposed to a large, official scholarly body such as the Association For Evolutionary Economics (AFEE), is it appropriate to have such a reference on this page? My initial inclination would be to remove this reference. Any thoughts? InstyProf 18:27, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree with you: very obscure indeed. I would support removing this (also very little external sources for article "differential accumulation", only the authors' archives - dubious....) Robertsch55 13:30, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
Differential accumulation is an important contribution in International Relations and International Political Economy and has been published in several major refereed journals and university presses. I would support changing the text to "Veblen's work has been influential in the institutional analyses of International Political Economy, and is credited as the basis of the concept "differential accumulation"" Dreddly (talk) 11:54, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

University of Texas[edit]

I'm curious what Veblen's connection to UT is, i.e. why this article is part of Wikipedia:WikiProject University of Texas at Austin. The word "Texas" does not appear in the article. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 22:17, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree, the connection is somewhat strained, but it must be due to the fact that the economics department at Texas was dominated for many years by Clarence Ayres who can be considered one of the most important "followers" of Veblen. --Anthon.Eff 03:17, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

When born?[edit]

Was he born 1857-07-30 (in text) or 1857-10-30 (in infobox)? Nsaa 22:12, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

He was born July 30 (Dorfman 1934: 3). Thanks for making the correction! --Anthon.Eff 12:10, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

In the article on Thorstein Veblen, the mathematician, Oswald Veblen, is cited as being Thorstein's nephew.

However, in the Wikipedia article on Oswald Veblen, Thorstein is mentioned as being is brother.

There is obviously an inconsistency.... that is, one of the articles in wrong on this point. (talk) 22:24, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


This citation indicates he was born in Valders, WI, not Cato, WI as indicated in the article. Do we know which source is correct? --ZimZalaBim talk 02:28, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

According to Dorfman (page 6), Veblen was born in Cato township (which, like Valders, is in Manitowoc County). Valders was the name of the valley in Norway his parents emigrated from, so obviously they had a certain affinity for Valders, WI, but their farm was within the boundaries of Cato.--Anthon.Eff (talk) 02:50, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Thx. I've removed mention of him from the Valders article. --ZimZalaBim talk 03:45, 24 April 2009 (UTC)


Is there any reason for more than a cursory mention of Technocracy in this article? I'm trimming per WP:weight, but an IP keeps reverting. LK (talk) 02:59, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

The proper application of WP:WEIGHT here would be in terms of how “reliable” sources on Veblen treated his associations with Technocracism. How much attention contemporary “reliable” sources on economic subjects more generally apply to Technocracism is nearly irrelevant to the application of WP:WEIGHT to an article on Veblen himself. (If few “reliable” sources on Veblen treated his associations with Technocracism as significant, then WP:WEIGHT would argue against much discussion even if overt Technocracism dominated modern economic thought.) —SlamDiego←T 10:00, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
The source which is currently being used seems to be, "The Technocrats 1919-1967: A Case Study of Conflict in a Social Movement". It looks like that's really supposed to be "The Technocrats 1919-1967: A Case Study of Conflict and Change in a Social Movement". Only place I find that is this PDF, which is a Master's thesis. A thesis, otherwise unpublished, isn't generally considered a RS is it? Has this been published elsewhere? CRETOG8(t/c) 14:03, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
So far I haven't found any hints the author was later published, or that the thesis has been widely cited (other than on Wikipedia). It might be ok if there's a wide consensus among editors but without later published work in that field by the author, citations of it in other published works or independent publication of the thesis itself, no, this wouldn't be taken as a relaible source here. Gwen Gale (talk) 14:22, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
That's not the only source over which there has been conflict.
  1. Robert adds Bell (American Scholar) as cited in Tilman (Princeton University Press) [1]
  2. Lawrencekhoo reverts it, claiming “Per wp:weight” [2]
  3. Robert restores Bell [3]
  4. Robert makes three more edits (consolidated), resulting in the use of Adair
  5. Lawrencekhoo removes Adair [4], saying “rm fringe”
Adair might not qualify as a “reliable” source, but that's a matter of WP:RS, not of WP:WEIGHT. WP:WEIGHT cannot properly be invoked here at all, and WP:RS cannot be invoked to remove Bell, especially as Robert made it plain that what was being expressed was Bell's opinion. —SlamDiego←T 14:40, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
It's tricky tracking down those sources. If Tilman is being used as a ref, then it should provide a page number. The two questions I see in regards to weight are (1) is the statement in the source a toss-off, a tiny piece of a big work? and (2) is the fact that a notable scholar (I don't know Bell myself, but giving his notability the benefit of the doubt) "sees an affinity between" a person and a movement a real enough connection to merit mention. To me it seems pushing it, but I'd want to see the actual context before judging either way. CRETOG8(t/c) 14:59, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
  1. Clearly the desirability of a page number is not properly addressed by deleting the passage and reference and invoking WP:WEIGHT. (And I'd rather not see Tilman used at all, since it's only being used to get to Bell.)
  2. Bell also discusses the relationship between Veblen and the Technocracy movement in an introduction to The Engineers and the Price System. I wouldn't know whether the statement in the cited article were a “toss-off”, but the discussion in that introduction is not.
  3. One can find scholars other than Bell who discuss how Veblen can be read as offering the same or similar ideas to those of the Technocracy movement, and how the founders of that movement pointed to Veblen as a principal influence. —SlamDiego←T 15:24, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

The Britannica article on Veblen (which is longer that ours) has only one mention of technocracy; it is at the end of a paragraph about his later works.

Another series of articles that appeared in The Dial was later published in the book The Engineers and the Price System (1921). In these pieces Veblen developed his ideas for reform of the economic system. He believed that engineers, who had the knowledge to run industry, should take over its direction because they would manage it for efficiency instead of profit. This theme was central to the brief Depression-era movement known as “technocracy.”

It makes no claim that Veblen was ever part of the technocracy movement, rather the technocracy movement took their ideas from him. LK (talk) 14:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

The Britannica does not use the same policies as does Wikipedia. Nor does the Wikipedia article claim that Veblen was part of the Technocracy movement. Rather, it claims that Veblen was part of what was to become the Technocratic movement (which claim needs a “reliable” source) and that “Daniel Bell sees an affinity between Veblen and the Technocracy movement” (which claim has a “reliable” source). —SlamDiego←T 14:45, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Which came first, tecnocracy or Veblen? That may be like asking who came first, radical communist feminists who hate high heels on women, or Veblen, who as I recall claimed that high heels were torture devices beloved of degenerate capitalists who liked showing off their excess, unproductive human chattel (women). So far as I'm aware, WP:WEIGHT says nothing about Britannica articles. However, I think the Adair source can be skived by any editor as not meeting RS. Gwen Gale (talk) 14:55, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
As it turns out, Bell (in his introduction to The Engineers and the Price System) seems to support a claim that Veblen wasn't really consulted on his membership in the Technical Alliance. He may simply have been co-opted. So the claim being supported by reference to Adair is especially problematic. —SlamDiego←T 15:24, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Whenever I hear the word technocrat, I think of Bob McNamara. For what it's worth, the more I hear about the Adair, the less I like it. Gwen Gale (talk) 15:30, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
  • The Adair reference seems fine. A Master's thesis which is well-referenced is a fine source for basic scholarship like this, and likely better than journal and newspaper articles which are written under much tighter deadlines. Adair, however, doesn't say that Veblen was a member of the Technical Alliance or the Technocracy. He isn't even clear as to whether Veblen joined the New Machine, an organization which preceded the Technical Alliance. Adair just says that there was a link (page 18). Veblen was associated with the founder of the New Machine, taught at the New School, and wrote a set of articles for the Dial which became his notable The Engineers and the Price System book. That's all worth including in the article. II | (t - c) 18:47, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Just to note it in case I come back to it, or someone else wants to, currently Google Books has the full text of Bell's introduction to Veblen's book (as SlamDiego mentions above) here. Bell certainly thinks that something about the relationship is notable, but it still has an almost gossipy quality about it, so I don't know how I'd phrase things myself. CRETOG8(t/c) 22:36, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
I was working on editing and moving this to Veblen's biography:
Veblen proposes a soviet of engineers in one chapter in The Engineers and the Price System[1]. According to Yngve Ramstad[2], this work's view that engineers, not workers, would overthrow capitalism was a "novel view". Veblen invited Guido Marx to the New School to teach and to help organize a movement of engineers, by such as Morris Cooke; Henry Laurence Gantt, who had died shortly before; and Howard Scott. Howard Scott then listed Veblen as on the temporary organizing committee of the Technical Alliance, perhaps without consulting Veblen or other listed members. The Technical Alliance, created in 1918-1919, would later become the Technocracy movement.[3] [4]. Daniel Bell sees an affinity between Veblen and the Technocracy movement[5].
And then I found I couldn't because of some protection on the page imposed by Gwen Gale. Perhaps I was not clear in my reversion summary that I intended to do something further. -- RLV (talk) 19:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
There was no need to save a reverted version in order to use it as a basis for such edits.
Given that his induction into the Technical Alliance appears to have been involuntary, it is not immediately clear why it should be mentioned in this article. It would plainly make sense to mention the membership if he could be shown to have embraced the membership or to have subsequently acted as a member, or significantly been treated as member by broader expanses of society. Beyond that, it might be better to instead note less convoluted instances of where Veblen was identified as a precursor, fellow traveler, or whatever of Technocratism. —SlamDiego←T 05:05, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Who said anything about "need"? I was interested in saving the reference string - with the WP markup - before modifying. The changes I was making reflected the discussion here, and I found another reference that could replace the Adair reference if one doesn't like it. Since I was not edit warring and am certainly not a sock, can somebody remove the protection?
Technocracy does not relate to Veblen merely by some vague similarity of ideas. The point is one of the founders, Scott, was part of the group Veblen was trying to get together around his time at the New School to found a movement of engineers. This history of organizations is notable and sourced. (By the way, that Henry Laurence Gantt I mention is the creator of Gantt charts.) So there is somebody else of interest in that milieu. And Daniel Bell, a later writer on the connection between Veblen and Technocracy, is definitely notable for the reasons given in his entry. (It helps to know something about post war public intellectuals in the US to understand Bell's notability.) -- RLV (talk) 09:48, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
That string was already saved, with an earlier edit. What you did was to restore it, even after it had been seen to be problematic. Your claim was that this was part of a process of effecting the passage that you present above, but the restoration did not serve towards effecting that passage. Your conduct was indistinguishable from edit warring, and needlessly disruptive in any case.
The issue that has been the subject of remaining contention has been Veblen's association (initially and perhaps always involuntary) with the Technical Alliance. Veblen's attempt to assemble a group at the New School is another matter. It remains unclear why this article should mention Veblen's induction into the Technical Alliance. —SlamDiego←T 10:04, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Clearly I am not a sock. A version of the disputed passage, albeit unsourced, was in the biography section of a 14 March version: That version was written by leading Veblen scholars, including Anne Mayhew: The edit summary for the disputed reversion describes that as a "version to edit": The additional editing was described on this talk page less than 20 minutes later: Those changes 20 minutes later contained wikipedia markup from the reversion, albeit improved as suggested by comments from Cretog on 13 November 2009. No disruption would have even been visible to somebody that had not looked at the article in those 20 minutes. The edit summary on the imposition of page protection incorrectly describes the disputed reversion as being by an "edit-warring sock": Would a responsible party please remove the protection? -- RLV (talk) 11:26, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Whether you are to be counted as using socks (and under what definition of “sock”) is secondary to the issue of edit warring. If Gwen Gale had seen the offense as abuse of socks per se, then she likely would have range blocked you.
Had you merely wanted to use that previous version as a basis, you could have begun editing from that version without restoring it at all, let alone for 20 minutes. (Nor should an editor or admin be expected to guess that the improperly restored version would stand for only an interval of , whether be 20 minutes or something else.) The edit summary of “version to edit” was not merely unhelpful but tied the restoration to an untenable justification. —SlamDiego←T 11:49, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't see why anybody should care about Gwen Gale's reasons for her mistake or my mastery of WP's interface. -- RLV (talk) 20:24, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
It isn't established that Gwen Gale made any mistake here. And your action wasn't plausibly a result of not knowing how to effect the subsequent edit without restoring the old version. —SlamDiego←T 01:33, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
ImperfectlyInformed, the reason that I keep putting “reliable” in quotation marks is that Wikipedia insists on using its own damned language, taking its vocabulary from English but then changing the meanings. What you and I might agree are reliable sources don't necessarily pass WP:RS, and therefore don't count as “reliable” sources.
WP:RS does specifically accept doctoral dissertations, and gives some explanation for their acceptance. It is silent on masters' theses, but the rationale for accepting dissertations would be far less applicable to theses. —SlamDiego←T 05:15, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:RS is just a list of examples of things that are pretty good. It's up to the editors to decide what's reliable or not. I don't see anyone making a good argument that Adair is a bad source. Nobody has identified any errors in it, and it is carefully referenced. Why would doctoral dissertations be so much more reliable than Master's thesis? Anyway, the current sentence looks sufficient:

Veblen proposes a soviet of engineers in one chapter in The Engineers and the Price System[8]. According to Yngve Ramstad[9], this work's view that engineers, not workers, would overthrow capitalism was a "novel view". Daniel Bell sees an affinity between Veblen and the Technocracy movement[10]

II | (t - c) 23:20, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:RS isn't just a list; it's policy. And while it is indeed up to editors to decide was is “reliable”, it is up to the editors of Wikipedia in general, rather than simply those working on a specific article (or even those who have declared relevant WikiProjects). The policy is to require, amongst other things, that a source be “published”, with doctoral dissertations specifically counted as “published” for reasons that happen to be far less applicable to masters' theses. Again, you and I might agree that Adair were reliable; that doesn't make it “reliable”.
I agree that the current passage looks sufficient. —SlamDiego←T 02:05, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Reliable sources technically isn't "policy", it's a "content guideline". Ignore all rules is "policy". And no, Wikipedia is definitely not top-down, it is bottom-up. Particular situations trump general guidelines, as emphasized by WP:IAR. Also, why would a doctoral dissertation be considered published more than a master's thesis? II | (t - c) 02:24, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
You're right on the status of WP:RS; thanks. (Such distinctions are genuinely important.) However, my principal point is that it goes beyond being just a list. WP:IAR is indeed policy, but its appropriate application, again, is determined by the wider community, rather than just those working on a given article or set of articles. That's not to say that the whole community has to explicitly participate in each discussion, but that each discussion should be informed by what the community has said. If one really wants to use a master's thesis here, one should in theory be able to persuade the community at WP:RS that the guideline could reasonably be expanded to included theses. Doctoral dissertations go through a more careful process of review; and dissertations are fairly often cited in sources considered “reliable”, whereas theses almost never are. —SlamDiego←T 02:34, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
This is getting into a tangent, but we'll have to agree to disagree on what IAR means and whether RS is a comprehensive list. I don't think Wikipedia is managed top-down and I think that's why IAR exists - the situations for Wikipedia are too diverse for a tight set of rules. I don't think it's even helpful to talk about "the community" as if it's a monolithic, discrete body with opinions. There's usually a shifting handful of people watching policy page; I don't really think of these people as "the community". These people would probably object to explicitly adding master's theses to WP:RS, but that doesn't mean such sources aren't good, or that they should be removed on sight. It's a general editorial decision. II | (t - c) 07:45, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that there is some monolithic entity which may be called “the community”. The fact is that Wikipedia is, for good or for worse, a communal endeavor, and if its community wants something to go in some way that they can effect, it does. Any given individual who significantly bucks that is likely to be expelled, and if a large party buck it then Wikipedia is likely to degenerate into a free-for-all BBS (which, at times, may seem better than what it often is, but that's another matter). And, again, I'm not arguing that the source in question isn't reliable; I'm arguing that it's not “reliable”. You and I might find considerable agreement on genuine reliability. —SlamDiego←T 08:33, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
The current sentence is insufficient for reasons I have already given. It suggests similar ideas, but doesn't get at the personal and organizational connections between Veblen and one of the founders of Technocracy. (One doesn't need to argue about the reliability of Adair, this is all in Bell - and Bell is referenced in the suggested change above.) According to the scholarly literature (Knoedler and Mayhew 1999), Scholars find it notable for Veblen to offer any advocacy or predictions whatsover and account for this case by his association with these engineers while at the new school. By the way, Morris Cooke and H. L. Gantt were followers of Taylor's Scientific Management, which should be noted too. And the whole paragraph could be moved to biography, which is where the expert rewrite first had the mention of Technocracy. -- RLV (talk) 04:03, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't have problem with the idea of noting personal connections to Technocrats (especially if this is in the more overtly biographical section). I believe that ImperfectlyInformed was writing of sufficiency for the “intellectual legacy” section, and I know that I was.
My continuing problem is with treating his membership in the Technical Alliance as significant. Years ago, I had friends who discovered that they could incorporate a non-profit in Ohio and make anyone whom they wished an officer ex-officio, without permission of that person. In no cases should that particular non-profit be mentioned in the Wikipedia articles on any of those inductees. And I don't (so far) see any reason to mention the Technical Alliance in the biography here of Veblen. —SlamDiego←T 05:23, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Slam here. The Technocracy connection could be mentioned, but if people are really interested they can read Bell. II | (t - c) 07:45, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

You may be interested but Theses which are available for consultation (ie, held by an academic library for universal borrowing, or distributed by microfilm or web) are now considered reliable sources. They would of course need to come from a real university. Fifelfoo (talk) 10:06, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

That will at least partially resolve the concern here. Thanks. —SlamDiego←T 11:07, 16 November 2009 (UTC)


209.217x is asking that I lift the semi-protection (early). Shall I? Gwen Gale (talk) 12:11, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

I think whatever edit-warring was happening was slo-mo enough that we can risk it happening again. Lift the protection. CRETOG8(t/c) 14:57, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Please remove the page protection. -- RLV (talk) 08:30, 17 November 2009 (UTC)


Veblen may have loved ritz crackers, but there's no way he ate them every single day of his life. (talk) 16:15, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Actually, Ritz Crackers weren't introduced until something like five years after his death. —SlamDiego←T 18:48, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Inappropriate language[edit]

"Experts complained his ideas, while brilliantly presented, were crude, gross, fuzzy, and imprecise; others complained he was a wacky eccentric"

Seriously? A) source for "experts", B) "wacky excentric"? Also, in what way would an economist/sociologist's ideas be "gross"? Is the minute (if any) difference between "fuzzy" and "imprecise" so important that it merits inclusion of both? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:51, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Ignorance of Thorstein Veblen[edit]

"Ignorance of Thorstein Veblen" is the title of a section of Chapter 1 (Thinking the Unthinkable) of Michael Dawson's brilliant work, "The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life" . In this work, Dawson quotes C. Wright Mills who called Veblen "the best critic of America that America has produced". This aspect of Veblen's work - as a trenchant and brilliant critic of the sinister and nefarious influence of big business marketing on American life - is curiously missing entirely from this Wikipedia article. It's as I've always said - Wikipedia has a disgusting right-wing bias that makes many of its articles less than worthless. "The real core of Veblen's now-forgotten theory of corporate salesmanship was his view that big business marketing was neither more nor less than a new embodiment of class coercion. While other thinkers of his day were developing early versions of the end of history thesis, Veblen insisted that business society's new class of owners relied just as much on arbitrary carrots and sticks as did prior ruling elites." See pp. 11-14 of Dawson's book for more. I wonder how long it will take for this contribution to be erased? lol. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Georgi Plekhanov (talkcontribs) 05:37, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

If you don't like the article as it stands, then you should edit it--you have the same rights here as anyone else. Veblen's left-leaning criticism of business has not been "forgotten", by the way--most of Veblen's admirers in contemporary academic economics have adopted that critical view.--Anthon.Eff (talk) 21:41, 11 November 2010 (UTC)


Experts complained his ideas, while brilliantly presented, were crude, gross, fuzzy, and imprecise; others complained he was a wacky eccentric. Scholars continue to debate exactly what he meant in his convoluted, ironic and satiric essays; he made heavy use of examples of primitive societies, but many examples were pure invention

Come on! This is just silly bias.

those are the conclusions of Gary Alan Fine, "The Social Construction of Style: Thorstein Veblen's the Theory of the Leisure Class as Contested Text" Sociological Quarterly 1994 35(3): 457-472. Fine is professor of Sociology at Northwestern University; he has been President of the Midwest Sociological Society, President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and editor of Social Psychology Quarterly, an official journal of the American Sociological Association. Rjensen (talk) 07:58, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

Unexplained deletions of 18 Sept 2014[edit]

I have undone this edit because of its unexplained changes. In particular: unexplained deletion of subsection structure/title "Institutional economics", unexplained deletion of the passage on friction between "business" and "industry", unexplained deletion of internal links (Second Industrial Revolution unlinked, nouveau riche unlinked and misspelled nouveau rich [sic]), unexplained deletion of Veblen's identification of the leisure class (as those who engage in conspicuous leisure or the non-productive use of time for the sake of displaying social status), etc. It would be helpful for transparency and for permitting verification that before such major changes any passages to be deleted would first be challenged explicitly (for ex. using appropriate inline templates) and newly introduced passages would be sufficiently referenced by inline references as far as possible. --Chris Howard (talk) 07:47, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

P.S. The IP has re-instated those changes without any further explanation, and continued editing from there. I hereby abandon the topic because it is of insufficient interest to me, but want to hereby alert readers and editors that earlier contributions have been deleted in this manner and that there is a higher risk to neutrality (WP:NPOV); for example, Veblen's identification of the leisure class as "those who engage in conspicuous leisure or the non-productive use of time for the sake of displaying social status" (as it was written in the article before, albeit without inline reference) has been deleted. There are further deletions, too, but due to the intransparent ways of editing of the IP it would be a lot of work to identify them one by one. --Chris Howard (talk) 07:55, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

As a result of recent editing by, huge portions of this article are now unsourced original research. (talk) 18:19, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

No-- when summarizing the content of a book, the book itself is all the reference that is needed. That is standard Wikipedia policy. Rjensen (talk) 04:19, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
The editor who has been adding so much unsourced content isn't summarizing the content of a book, s/he's giving a personal interpretation of Veblen's writing. Here are a few examples of original research:
  • "Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry"
  • "Veblen laid the foundation for the perspective of institutional economics"
  • "While economic institutionalism never transformed into a major school of economic thought, it allowed economists to explore economic problems from a perspective that incorporated social and cultural phenomena."
  • "The central problem for Veblen was..."
  • "Probably the clearest inheritors of Veblen's ideas that humans are not rationally pursuing value and utility through their conspicuous consumption are adherents of the school of behavioral economics"
All involve unsourced opinion and interpretation, not summarization. (talk) 04:33, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
is the problem a) mistaken statements or b) not enough footnotes. All that material is in Dorfman & other standard sources--none is actually "original." Rjensen (talk) 04:39, 3 October 2014 (UTC)


Veblen's articles were highly influential and reached most of the active economists and sociologists the country, who subscribe to QJE, JPE etc. I can imagine why anyone would like to delete them?? Rjensen (talk) 11:49, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

No argument is made to dispute their influence. But to have a list of all his articles without analysis or comment doesn't add any benefit to the article. Why not provide a link to a bibliography or author page in the external links? Or write some prose about more influential pieces and improve the article? See these similar pages for economists which did not require an exhaustive reporting of their minor publications: John Maurice Clark, John R. Commons, Robert A. Brady. Musicandnintendo (talk) 14:40, 14 February 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Rick Tilman, Thorstein Veblen and His Critics, 1891-1963, Princeton University Press (1992)
  2. ^ "Veblen, Thorstein", Yngve Ramstad, in The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics (edited by G. M. Hodgson, W. J. Samuels, and M. R. Tool), Edward Edgar (1994)
  3. ^ David Adair, The Technocrats 1919-1967: A Case Study of Conflict and Change in a Social Movement, a Master's thesis, Simon Fraser University (1970)
  4. ^ Daniel Bell (1963), "Veblen and the Technocrats: On the Engineers and the Price System" (in The Winding Passage: Sociological Essays and Journeys, 1980)
  5. ^ Daniel Bell, "Veblen and the New Class", American Scholar, V. 32 (Autumn 1963) (cited in Rick Tilman, Thorstein Veblen and His Critics, 1891-1963, Princeton University Press (1992))