Veblen Thornstein(1857-1929) US economist, sociologist and social critic, of Norwegian extraction, who founded the approach known as INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS. In the Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Veblen presented an uncompromising critique of the lifestyle of emulation and CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION of the dominant social groupings in American society. In a further series of works, notably The Theory of the Business Enterprise (1904), The Instinct for Workmanship (1914), and The Engineers and the Price System (1921), he was responsible for an equally trenchant critical analysis of US capitalism, which he regarded as
‘predatory’ and ‘parasitic’. Veblen's hope was that one day the LEISURE CLASS and modern corporate power would be replaced by the rule of engineers and that the human ‘instinct for workmanship’ would prevail. However, he was not surprised that capitalism should have led to world war, the origins of which he traced to Germany's late industrialization and its lack of a democratic political tradition. There is some similarity between Veblen's style of sociology (and the hostile response it often generated) and the later work of another major sociological critic of US society C. Wright MILLS. However, the critical reception of Veblen's work reflects weakness in his methods as well as undoubted ideological resistance to his critique of US society.