Veblen, Veblenian Social Practices, and Prosperity Theology
Mary V. Wrenn
Journal of Economic Issues, 2020, vol. 54, issue 1, 1-18
At the turn of the twentieth century (1910), Veblen published an essay which explored the relationship between Christianity and capitalism by focusing on the interaction between the two institutions as they evolved. Veblen’s analysis begins by detailing the evolution of Christianity prior to the age of industrialized capitalism, after which he explores the evolutionary interplay between the two. Just over ten years prior to the publication of this essay (1899), Veblen published the Theory of the Leisure Class while over ten years after the publication of the essay (1923), Veblen dissected the sales efforts of Christianity in a note titled “Salesmanship and the Churches.” Nearly 100 years later, these three works together explain a modern and distinctly American religious movement—Prosperity Theology. This research argues that Prosperity Theology as practiced in the United States over the past nearly half century embodies and integrates all three of these works by Veblen and proposes the conceptual term “Veblenian Social Practice.”
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