Finding Veblen’s leisure class studies in some novels by H.G. Wells, Felix J. Palma, and Suzanne Collins

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Ralph G. O'Sullivan

Abstract

Thorstein Veblen has a mixed presence in modern sociology because many of his findings are still viable, his writing style is a gymnastic exercise in syntax, and his theories of causality are speculative. Rosenberg (1956) says that Veblen had little impact on the sociology of his time, House (1936) wrote that sociologists of the future would be wise to pay attention to Veblen’s discourse, and Coser (1971) called Veblen one of the “masters.” Veblen is most recognized for his descriptors of the leisure class lifestyle, but his discussions also have currency outside sociology, especially in popular literature. This article, for example, evinces some of the main features of Veblen’s studies in H.G. Wells’ novels The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in Felix J. Palma’s novels The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky, and in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. These sets of stories represent a combination of convenience and purposive samples, but they are not used as substitutes for scholarly evidence. They can instead be used by serious and by casual readers of Veblen to better understand the scope of his complexities.

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