Professor John Hall
Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes
B150, B250, B310
Conspicuous consumption, Evolutionary economics, History of thought, Institutional economics, Thorstein Veblen
This inquiry seeks to counter a hypothesis recently advanced by Jon D. Wisman; which states that Thorstein Veblen “missed” the opportunity to incorporate sexual selection into his evolutionary economics. To the contrary, I shall argue that Veblen’s vision is not at all lacking and that he intentionally failed to integrate into his evolutionary thinking the animal drive of sexual selection. First-off, I offer an account of Wisman’s thesis and this is followed by a refutation of his argument while making use of Veblen’s key concepts. Tracing the evolution of “conspicuous consumption” to its social inception, I endeavor to reveal the consistent distinction made between biological drives and cultural propensities found in Veblen’s work. Lastly, I shall widen the scope of this inquiry and consider Veblen’s interpretation of the role of science in society, generally, and his place in the history of economic thought, specifically.
© Jenica M. Kramer
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Kramer, Jenica M. "Veblen and the Question of Sexual Selection, Working Paper No. 20", Portland State University Economics Working Papers. 20. (15 June 2019) i + 14 pages.