Article

Veblen Redivivus: Leisure and Excessin Europe

Rosemary Wakeman

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199560981.013.0021

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Veblen Redivivus: Leisure and Excessin Europe

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  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)
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Mass consumption and leisure are among the most fascinating and thought-provoking challenges for twentieth-century historians. It was precisely the initial phases of mass consumerism that prompted Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen to warn of the consequences of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and misguided materialism in his 1899 The Theory of the Leisure Class. In Veblen's estimation, new-money leisure classes could dress up their pretensions and social status with a wasteful display of commodities. It was television more than any other factor that introduced people to the new world of things. Sports claimed a prominent place on television and in leisure life throughout Europe in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Tourism emerged from the ashes of World War II as one of the best prospects for European economic recovery and for providing relief for restive, war-weary Europeans only too happy for a few days of holiday respite. The second half of the twentieth century gives scholars every reason for pause in assessing the intertwining of citizen and consumer.

Keywords: consumption; leisure; Europe; Thorstein Veblen; consumerism; television; sports; tourism; citizen; consumer

Article.  9450 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; Social and Cultural History

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