This paper suggests that in the development of his critique of American consumer society, culminating in The Joyless Economy (1976), Tibor Scitovsky owed a significant intellectual debt to Erich Fromm. The latter’s influence can be detected in Scitovsky’s work from the 1950s, but emerges most clearly in the 1976 book. There, Scitovsky presents in an economic context the essential elements of Fromm’s psychosocial critique of the United States, a Puritan-type culture that encourages moneymaking but not the cultivation of leisure; a mass-production economy that provides comfort but also alienation; and an educational system that emphasizes technical knowledge over the liberal arts. By considering both their shared formative, intellectual milieu and Fromm’s influence on Scitovsky, the paper casts new light on both the origins and controversial reception of The Joyless Economy.

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