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The Affluent Society (1958)

by John Kenneth Galbraith

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1,39989,316 (3.77)11
Galbraith's classic on the "economic of abundance" is, in the words of the New York Times, "a compelling challenge to conventional thought." With customary clarity, eloquence, and humor, Galbraith cuts to the heart of what economic security means (and doesn't mean) in today's world and lays bare the hazards of individual and societal complacence about economic inequity. While "affluent society" and "conventional wisdom" (first used in the book) have entered the vernacular, the message of the book has not been so widely embraced--reason enough to rediscover The Affluent Society.… (more)

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» See also 11 mentions

English (7)  Italian (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Galbraith's assessment of the 1950's economic scene, the populace's choices, and the then current reasons for the post-war boom, are particularly relevant to our choices today: Affluenza, the decaying environment, decreases in social services, worker rights, materialism, etc.

I disdain economic dogma, the economic beliefs that are so commonly bandied about, and seemingly plausible, but generally unproven and with little merit. Economics abounds with such things, and Galbraith's insights then are wholly relevant now, both as a critique of the current administration's policies, and as a guidepost for a better future. ( )
  James.Igoe | Jul 26, 2017 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
  Lunapilot | Jul 19, 2016 |
A profoundly silly book from a once revered, now largely forgotten economist.

It is really an updating of the arguments Sismondi and Mill (among others) were making over a century before, namely that we, as a species, now had enough stuff and the pursuit of more was self defeating. Sismondi and Mill made this argument when most of humanity didn't have the proverbial to piss in, and Galbraith's rehash is little more convincing. Some of the things he records as needless fancies include wall to wall carpets and vacuum cleaners, both pretty much necessities these days. Still, Galbraith could probably afford a maid.

As ridiculous is his famous argument about private plenty and public squalor. As Galbraith was writing this, governments were increasing their spending endlessly to the point we now have where, in may countries, government debt is approaching or over 100% of GDP. We have public plenty to a degree we can no longer afford. ( )
  JohnPhelan | Nov 9, 2015 |
Published soon after I left school, this was hailed at the time as an important analysis of what some (and particularly Galbraith) saw as a set of problems and issues associated with what was seen as increasing affluence, reduced need for work etc. Sadly, like many (perhaps most) economists and sociologists, Galbraith either overlooked, misunderstood, or perhaps failed entirely to consider, the wide and unpredictable outcomes of technological development - the strange interactions between people, societies, economies and new products and mechanisms. People use new products and services in new ways, and these new ways give rise to opportunities and demands for new types of products and services, and for new societal behaviours and modes. In this respect, 'The Affluent Society' is as interesting, but also as misleading, as 'Future Shock' and all the other predictions of the doom that will befall if we fail to prepare ourselves for what is to come. Since we cannot predict, we cannot prepare, which is what makes political decision making so difficult. Except of course in a dictatorship, where politics seeks to decide the future rather than prepare for it - and that doesn't work either! By the way, its still a good read - if you enjoy or can live with his leftish bias. ( )
  NaggedMan | Jan 31, 2015 |
This book was on Newsweek's list of the top 100 books, which I am currently reading through. I don't have much of an interest in reading about economics, which accounts for a mere three stars in this review, but as far as economics goes, The Affluent Society was well-written and easy to read and contained quite a bit of interesting information, even if I didn't always agree with the author. In some ways it seems he really has a handle on the post WWII economic society in America, not only at the time he wrote the book in 1958 but even today. However, many of his ideas sound good on paper but do not necessarily work in practice. I am all for keeping our public roads in good shape and our parks clean and, most importantly, open, but heavy taxation today may not result in any better care of our roads or parks and may just end up lining the pockets of our government leaders. Also, his ideas on unemployment insurance and social welfare (which basically have been put in to practice), may be good ideas in a society where idleness is frowned upon, but this no longer seems to be the case and the system is often abused at taxpayer expense. ( )
1 vote rizeandshine | Jun 2, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Kenneth Galbraithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carter, LarryCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The economist, like everyone else, must concern himself with the ultimate aims of man. - Alfred Marshall
To Alan, Peter and Jamie
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Wealth is not without its advantages and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Mankind produces lots
The conventional wisdoms
are no longer right

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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