Affluent Society

Affluent Society Sociology Definition


A civilization that places a disproportionate amount of emphasis on private sector output is an affluent society with abundant private resources but inadequate public ones. John Kenneth Galbraith used the phrase “affluent society” to refer to the post-World War II United States in his book “The Affluent Society.”


The United States confronted several internal and international policy challenges in the 1950s. Even though many Americans lived in an “affluent society,” there was more poverty than most people thought. The fight for civil rights by minorities, especially African-Americans, became a national issue.

The Affluent Society by John K. Galbraith brought attention to a conflict in the USA during this era. According to him, while the country was indeed wealthy, the majority’s private resources were accompanied by considerable public squalor, and there was a sizeable minority that had both been economically left behind and effectively disenfranchised. These issues started to increase in other parts of the world. Private wealth places a strain on public services and has significant environmental implications.

Additionally, even while the poorest people may have profited, they have fallen far enough behind the average to be disenfranchised in various ways from civil society in many nations where the average quality of living has improved significantly.

America has to go from a private production economy to a public investment economy, according to Galbraith. The needs for products and services in America are not generated naturally or by consumers. Advertisers and the private market-based lobby are the ones who are developing the new demands.

Galbraith argued that the United States should redirect resources to enhance school systems, infrastructural facilities, outdoor recreation resources, and welfare services, providing a better quality of life instead of an ever-increasing quantity of consumer goods because industrial output was being dedicated to advancing trivial consumer needs, in part to maintain employment. His criticism impacted efforts made in the 1960s to raise the calibre of public infrastructures and social institutions.


British society in the later 1950s when it was believed that improving living conditions were causing significant changes in social views, including a decrease in traditional working-class backing for the Labour Party.

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