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The Higher Learning in America

by Thorstein Veblen

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721284,150 (3.5)None
At the time of its initial publication in 1904, The Higher Learning in America was known in educated circles as the most reflective study ever made of the university system in America. Veblen's evaluation of the misleading notions and erroneous beliefs were inherent in "the higher learning" was received as fair by most academics. As a result, many believed he paved the way to an improved age in college education. Just as applicable today as they were decades ago, his sophisticated style remains deprecatingly amusing; his biting critique just as disquieting as it was at the turn of the 19th century. The Higher Learning in America remains a penetrating book by one of America's greatest social critics. American economist and sociologist THORSTEIN BUNDE VEBLEN (1857-1929) was educated at Carleton College, Johns Hopkins University and Yale University. He coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption." Among his most famous works are The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904), and Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution (1915).… (more)
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Veblen never fails to make me laugh. In this case his argument is substantially the same one I made myself (in The Bubble Boys: How Mistaken Educational Ideals and Practices are Causing a Warped Social Fabric), but the approach is from a different angle. He sets the goal of business as separate from the goal of disinterested scholarship and goes from there to explain how the university system, in his time starting to be controlled by businessmen, has shifted its focus to ostentatious display (conspicuous consumption) and advertising rather than actually educating. Well worth the read, though Veblen's use of language remains extraordinarily difficult. ( )
  jrgoetziii | Jan 12, 2012 |
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At the time of its initial publication in 1904, The Higher Learning in America was known in educated circles as the most reflective study ever made of the university system in America. Veblen's evaluation of the misleading notions and erroneous beliefs were inherent in "the higher learning" was received as fair by most academics. As a result, many believed he paved the way to an improved age in college education. Just as applicable today as they were decades ago, his sophisticated style remains deprecatingly amusing; his biting critique just as disquieting as it was at the turn of the 19th century. The Higher Learning in America remains a penetrating book by one of America's greatest social critics. American economist and sociologist THORSTEIN BUNDE VEBLEN (1857-1929) was educated at Carleton College, Johns Hopkins University and Yale University. He coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption." Among his most famous works are The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904), and Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution (1915).

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