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Patten, Simon Nelson (1852–1922)

Simon Nelson Patten was an American economist, social scientist, and educator. Born in Illinois and educated at Northwestern University and Halle University, Germany, he was a founding member of the American Economics Association (AEA) and a member of faculty (later chair) of Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania (1888–1917).

An economist and theoretician, Patten was one of the earliest proponents of the economic importance and benefits of a mass consumption society. Critical of the harsh conditions created by industrial capitalism, Patten's theories of a “social commonwealth” as an ideal state devoid of economic and social pain preempted much of the consumerist thought of the New Deal and postwar period. Yet Patten was equally as concerned with restraint and moderation as he was with a mass consumption ...

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