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Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929) was an American economist and sociologist. He is well known as a witty critic of capitalism. Veblen is famous for the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” Conspicuous consumption, along with “conspicuous leisure,” is performed to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. Veblen explains the concept in his best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class. Within the history of economic thought, Veblen is considered the leader of the institutional economics movement. Veblen's distinction between “institutions” and “technology” is still called the Veblenian dichotomy by contemporary economists. In the beginning of his academic career Veblen had difficulties obtaining a university position, whether because he was discriminated for being Norwegian, or openly identified as an agnostic. These difficulties later inspired him to write The Higher Learning in America. In this book he claimed that true academic values were sacrificed by universities in favor of their own self-interest and profitability.