Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I like Veblen too, but his work needs to be looked at with the added insights that have developed since he wrote.

One of the things is that he brought a certain austere view of life to his work which colored his thinking. It makes for great invective, but slightly biased investigation.

The principle change in the study of consumerism since his day, I think, is the understanding of how marketing and propaganda can influence behavior. People are now frequently persuaded to act in ways that are at odds with their own self-interest. This ranges from the trivial of the annual changes in women's fashions, to adopting the themes of racial or cultural superiority which leads to wars and mass annihilation.

People seem to fall into several broad groups psychologically.
At the top are the amoral power hungry - Stalin, Hitler, etc. (Perhaps 1% of the population?)

Below them are those who "need to believe". These are the ones Robert Altemeyer calls RWA's (right wing authoritarians). They follow a strong leader unquestioningly and are immune to facts which contradict their beliefs. There is a strong correlation between them and religious and social conservatives. In the US currently many of them are Evangelical Christians. (Estimated to be about 20% of the population.)

Next down are the weak followers. This is probably the biggest sector. (My guess 50+% of the population). They either go along so as not to stand out, or keep out of the way if there are strong spits of opinion. Politically they are the big percentage that doesn't vote or seldom votes. Since choices are made by others that are more committed their options are limited for them, especially in the market place. Try to buy an 80 mpg auto in the US.

Finally there are the 20% or so of people who reject the conventions. They may drop out, or accommodate to society as little as possible. I think they tend to be artists and artisans and go into academia or other "ivory tower" fields. Their disdain for convention also means that they end up influencing the direction society takes less than their numbers would indicate.  

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 10:49:35 AM EST

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