The present work sets out to re-read Veblen on the nature and effect of popular opinion in the process ofinstitutional evolution. We mainly want to show – contrary to much of the interpretative literature – thatmachine discipline is just one way, and not even the main one, that Veblen uses to explain how populardiscontent is generated, and that the economic grounds underlying the process of modification ofinstitutions can work only if it is free from any counteracting force and modification therefore does not necessarily derive from machine discipline. In these terms the technocratic reading of the role of thepopulation in the process of institutional change is only partially convincing. In order to achieve thisgeneral goal we will show how and where Veblen actually deals with the question of popular discontent inhis works and what role it plays
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