A Theory of Consumption

A Theory of Consumption

A Theory of Consumption

A Theory of Consumption

Excerpt

This book undertakes to present just what its title says -- a theory of consumption. The discussion found in it should be regarded as tentative rather than final, and as fragmentary rather than comprehensive. It is not expected that the reader will find here an analysis that is completely satisfying, merely one that may be suggestive.

There are two reasons, at least, why this is inevitably true. The subject is one, it is believed, that to an unusual degree widens as the investigation proceeds. At any rate, the time and labor that have been spent in formulating this theory of consumption have continually opened up new lines of thought and suggested new questions. I brought my study to an end with more unexplored territory in sight than I was aware of in the beginning. But there is a reason, other than the breadth of the subject, why the present discussion can be only tentative and groping. A study of consumption is in the main a study of human behavior. Students of any phase of this subject to-day find that much of the discussion available is superficial, that methods of procedure are in doubt, and that knowledge is uncertain. It is to be expected that, as research in this field goes on, as principles are established, and as terminology is made definite, the old interpretations of human conduct must be recast and new ones formulated.

There will be found in this book no list of works consulted by the author or of general books upon the same subject. The omission is deliberate and significant. It indicates what the student of consumption may expect to find in the way of resources ready at hand for his assistance. So little has been written on the general topic that one could scarcely make a list of half a dozen titles without including works . . .

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