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Today in Labour History

3 August 1929
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Harem women feeding pigeons in a courtyard
Source: Wikiart

Leisure Workers

Servants have also historically been hired to do no work at all. They just had to accompany their master and by their sheer numbers illustrate his wealthy lifestyle and class. The paradoxical function was described by the Norwegian-American farmer and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisured Class. When this masterpiece appeared in 1899, Veblen was a research fellow at the University of Chicago. Because of the completion of his first book, Veblen requested a raise of his salary. The university’s president answered that he would not be upset if Veblen decided to leave the University. However, the book received much attention, and as a result, Veblen was eventually promoted to the position of assistant professor. Veblen died on 3 August 1929.

From George Ritzer, Sociological Theory 8th edition (New York 2013) p 196

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