Work and teaching

Discussing the separation of workplace and home, Rosenstock-Huessy makes the striking observation that this divide separates labor from a man’s “right to teach, once the supreme value of a master’s earthly life.” . . . . Continue Reading »

VISA World

Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA Corporation, describes the rise and size of the company: “In 1968 the VISA community was no more than a set of beliefs and a vague concept. In 1970 it was born. Today, twenty-nine years later, its products are created by 22,000 owner-member financial . . . . Continue Reading »

Global corporations

Peter Drucker notes that “the distinction between parent and daughter [companies] is increasingly blurring. In the transnational company, design is done anyplace within the system. Major pharmaceutical companies now have research laboratories in five or six countries, in the United States, . . . . Continue Reading »


The reviewer of Ernest Sterberg’s 1999 Economy of Icons in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology summarizes some main points from this latter-day Thorstein Veblen: “The thesis of this controversial book is that ‘enterprises make their way in the capitalist economy by . . . . Continue Reading »

Bakhtin the capitalist

Stallybrass and White critize Bakhtin for conceptualizing the fair purely as a place of communal celebration, ignoring the commercial activities of the fair: “In developing this concept, Bakhtin succumbs to that separation of the festive and the commercial which is distinctive of capitalist . . . . Continue Reading »

Elegant dress

In his Theory of the Leisure Class , Thorstein Veblen notes that it is good if it shows that “the wearer can afford to consumer freely and uneconomically,” but beyond that should “make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Rational Actors

Featherstone claims that economics has generally focused on the production rather than the consumption side of things, perhaps because of “the assumption that consumption was unproblematic because it was based upon the concept of rational individuals buying goods to maximize their . . . . Continue Reading »

Roofless factory

The “roofless factory” of some contemporary capitalist theory and practice reverses one of the basic drives of modern economic life. Bringing all workers into a single location under a single roof was one of the main features of the early modern factory system, and provided not only the . . . . Continue Reading »

Estate Tax

Peter Beinart offers one contradictory, one misleading, and one astonishing argument in favor of the estate tax on the “super rich” (TNR, May 15). The contradictory argument first: He quotes from Teddy Roosevelt to the effect that the wealthy owe a particular debt to the state because . . . . Continue Reading »


Consumerism is a popular category of analysis, but what exactly does it mean? How is consumerism or the consumer society different from anything else? Haven’t every economies had producers and consumers? In his The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism , Colin Campbell offers . . . . Continue Reading »