The Affluent Society

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Book cover of The Affluent Society

Book description

John Kenneth Galbraith's international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths.

As relevant today as when it was first published over forty years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith's classic text on the 'economics of abundance', lays…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Affluent Society as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

How can a society as rich as ours leave so many people behind?

Published in 1958, this book opened my eyes to the importance of economic justice—I first read it in the late 1970s when I was nineteen.

But it is still mind-blowing today, for neither the wrongheadedness of prevailing economic policy nor the solutions that are available for us to do better have changed.

From Mark's list on what causes economic injustice.

Galbraith’s book is the classic explanation of how the American (and other) economies transitioned from using an increase in production for the greater good to becoming used for excess and overconsumption. Galbraith wrote the book in 1958 in the post-World War II economy, but his economic theories remain foundational today, sixty-five years ago. Unlike the economists who criticized capitalism in favor of socialism, Galbraith believed socialism stunted innovation, and preferred a more rational model of capitalism. The Affluent Society is a great read for those who wish to understand the roots of today’s imbalanced economy, and the need for greater…

Written in a much easier to digest, more fluid style than many books of its time, Galbraith’s classic is an optimistic reminder that good business, good people, and good societies are not antithetical. The Affluent Society is a check on the idea that unfettered growth—without also strengthening the environmental and social structure around it—is an empty pursuit. As Galbraith says when speaking about social infrastructure, “the conflict between security and progress, once billed at the social conflict of the century, doesn’t exist.” This simple idea, to use a phrase coined by Galbraith himself, should be “conventional wisdom.” 

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