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The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen Essay


How the emulation motive affects people’s consumption choices

Veblen asserts that emulation is a strong economic force that influences many people in society (Veblen 678). Emulation makes people do what they think they should do because they belong to certain social classes. This force of comparison encourages individuals to outperform other people in the community. In the workplace, for example, personnel may work towards outdoing their colleagues so that they can be satisfied.

The author contends that retrogression is difficult, but conspicuous expenditure is prevalent among people of different social classes (Veblen 679). If people do not achieve their goals of expenditure, then the question and attempt to know why their consumption projections are not met. They compare themselves to their colleagues and other people who may be close to them. This stimulus is a normal force in life that makes people consume more items and achieve more property and prosperity (Veblen 682).

Emulation is significantly promoted by the upper classes because people in such classes live better lives than those in the lower classes. Thus, the lower class individuals emulate what the people in the upper classes do for their living. For example, people might emulate what others do about family expenditure. If an individual realizes that his or her colleague educates his or her children in the best schools, then he or she also takes his or her kids to the best schools.

Also, a person could purchase clothes based on what his or her friends wear. However, when people who were previously in the lower classes feel that they have achieved the best things in life, then they start to look down upon those people in the lower classes (Veblen 689). As the author asserts, emulation is a good catalyst for reputation in society. People emulate other persons so that they could achieve higher levels of reputation.

This is a standard aspect of human nature, which has been adopted by several generations. It has also been noted that people aim at preventing a recession that could make them go back to the lower classes. Thus, people show resistance to retrogression because high spending becomes a habit in their lives.

The familiarity of the pattern described by Veblen

The consumption pattern that is described by Veblen is quite familiar. Some stimulants are utilized to achieve some higher wants or the need for salvation. From a general standpoint, habits that have been adopted by persons for a relatively long period are quite difficult to break (Veblen 687). Specifically, the habits become harder to break if they involve some life traits that are common characteristics of individuals. However, the rates at which habits are formed vary among different people in society.

Likewise, people have different tendencies to breaking their established habits about the consumption of products (Veblen 690). It has been shown that human aptitude greatly determines the ease at which people give up their routine expenditure in the context of conspicuous consumption. Thus, it would be expected that people who are characterized by high levels of aptitude could hardly abandon their conspicuous consumption pattern.

This pattern of consumption is evident in cases where parents adopt lifestyles that are characterized by high costs of maintenance. In conclusion, the desire to increase the level of consumption by individuals is a general pattern that is adopted by people in all social classes.

Works Cited

Veblen, Thorstein. The theory of the leisure class. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 2000. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, April 3). The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leisure-class-theory-by-veblen/

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"The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen." IvyPanda, 3 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-leisure-class-theory-by-veblen/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen." April 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leisure-class-theory-by-veblen/.


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IvyPanda. "The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen." April 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leisure-class-theory-by-veblen/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen." April 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leisure-class-theory-by-veblen/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Leisure Class Theory by Veblen'. 3 April.

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