Definitions

veblenian

Veblenian dichotomy

The Veblenian dichotomy is a concept first suggested by sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen in his 1904 book The Theory of Business Enterprise.

Veblen defines "ceremonial" as related to the past, supportive of "tribal legends" or traditional conserving attitudes and conduct; while the "instrumental" orients itself toward the technological imperative, judging value by the ability to control future consequences.

The theory suggests that although every society depends on tools and skills to support the life process, every society also appears to have a "ceremonial" stratified structure of status that runs contrary to the needs of the "instrumental" (technological) aspects of group life.

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