Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Rejecting the classical view of economics as governed by “laws” of supply and demand, Veblen conceived a system in which production and distribution of goods would be controlled by engineers, foreshadowing a “technocracy.”
Thorstein Bunde Veblen was born July 30, 1857, on an eighty-acre farm in Cato Township, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. His father, Thomas Anderson Veblen, and his mother, Kari Bunde Veblen, immigrated to the United States from Norway in 1847. The sixth of twelve children, Veblen was named for his maternal grandfather, Thorstein Bunde. Eight years later, the family moved to a 290-acre farm in Wheeling Township near Nerstrand, Wisconsin.
When Veblen was seventeen, his father, without consulting him, enrolled him in Carleton College in nearby Northfield. He was graduated in 1880 and taught one year at the Monona Academy in Madison, 1880-1881, after which he enrolled in The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He failed to get the fellowship he had hoped for to enable him to pursue his studies, and he left before the term was ended and enrolled at Yale to study philosophy under President Noah Porter and William Graham Sumner. He received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1884.
Veblen tried desperately to obtain a teaching appointment in the East, and finding none, he returned to Minnesota, married Ellen May Rolfe, and settled on a farm near Stacyville,...
(The entire section is 2055 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Thorstein Bunde Veblen (VEHB-luhn) was born to Norwegian immigrant parents on a farm in Wisconsin when that state was still largely on the frontier. In 1865 the family moved to a 290-acre farm in Minnesota in a Norwegian community where Old World ways and speech were dominant. When Veblen was seventeen, his father, eager for his children to be educated, enrolled his son at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
After graduation Veblen went to Madison, Wisconsin, where he taught for a year (1880-1881) at Monona Academy. Afterward, he enrolled at The Johns Hopkins University. Failing to receive a fellowship there, he left before the first term’s end for Yale University, where he took a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1884. That same year two of his writings appeared: an essay on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy and an essay on the surplus federal revenue of 1837. The latter won the John Addison Porter Prize.
Unable to find a job despite his publications and his doctorate, Veblen returned to the farm in Minnesota, where he led an unhappy life. After marrying Ellen May Rolfe, whom he had known in college, he moved with her to a farm in Iowa. In 1891 he obtained a fellowship at Cornell University, continuing to write for academic journals. Through a friend he received a teaching fellowship at the new University of Chicago in 1892, where he remained until 1906. During this period he also served as editor...
(The entire section is 483 words.)