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Encyclopedia > Conspicuous consumption

Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services that are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status. A very similar but more colloquial term is "keeping up with the Joneses". Income, generally defined, is the money that is received as a result of the normal business activities of an individual or a business. ... For the business meaning, see Wealth (economics). ... Social status is the honor or prestige attached to ones position in society (ones social position). ...


Invidious consumption, a necessary corollary, is the term applied to consumption of goods and services for the deliberate purpose of inspiring envy in others. A theorem is a statement which can be proven true within some logical framework. ... For other uses, see Envy (disambiguation). ...


These terms are not used descriptively for behavioral disorders such as binge eating and compulsive spending. Binge eating disorder is a medical syndrome in which, according to currently accepted definitions, people: feel their eating is out of control; eat what most people would think is an unusually large amount of food; eat much more quickly than usual during binge episodes; eat until so full they are... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ...

Contents

History and evolution of the term

The term conspicuous consumption was introduced by Norwegian American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his 1899 book The Theory of the Leisure Class. Veblen used the term to depict the behavioral characteristic of the nouveau riche, a new class that emerged in the 19th century capitalistic society as a result of the accumulation of wealth during the Second Industrial Revolution. In this context, the application of the term should be narrowed only to the elements of the upper class who use their enormous wealth to manifest their social power, whether real or perceived. This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Tosten Bunde Veblen July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was a Norwegian-American sociologist and economist and a founder, along with John R. Commons, of the Institutional economics movement. ... The Norwegian-Americans are an ethnic group in the United States. ... Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Tosten Bunde Veblen July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was a Norwegian-American sociologist and economist and a founder, along with John R. Commons, of the Institutional economics movement. ... The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ... Nouveau riche (French for new rich), or new money refers to persons who acquire wealth within their generation. ... Capitalism generally refers to in philosophy and politics, a social system based on the principle of individual rights, including property rights. ... Most generally, the accumulation of capital refers simply to the gathering or amassment of objects of value; the increase in wealth; or the creation of wealth. ... The Second Industrial Revolution (1865–1900) is a phrase used by some historians to describe an assumed second phase of the Industrial Revolution. ... Upper class refers to the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. ...


With significant improvement of living standards and the emergence of the middle class in the 20th century, the term conspicuous consumption is now broadly applied to individuals and households with expendable incomes whose consumption patterns are prompted by status seeking rather than their substantial needs and are thereby socially wasteful. As early as the 1920s, economists such as Paul Nystrom theorized that lifestyle changes brought on by the industrial age were inducing a "philosophy of futility" in the masses, which would increase fashionable consumption. Thus, the concept of conspicuous consumption has been discussed in the context of addictive or narcissistic behaviors induced by consumerism, the desire for immediate gratification, and hedonic expectations. The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ... Philosophy of futility is a phrase coined by Columbia University marketing professor Paul Nystrom to describe the disposition caused by the monotony of day-to-day work in the new industrial age. ... Heroin bottle An addiction is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individuals health, mental state or social life. ... This article is about narcissism as a word in common use. ... Consumerist redirects here. ... This article does not cite any sources. ...


In recent years, conspicuous consumption has also been viewed as a contributing factor to behavioral disorders such as compulsive spending and is a major contributor to personal bankruptcies resulting from abuse and mismanagement of credit[citation needed]. Oniomania (from Greek onios = for sale : coined by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin) also known as shopping addiction or shopaholism, is the compulsive desire to shop. ... Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay their creditors. ... Credit as a financial term, used in such terms as credit card, refers to the granting of a loan and the creation of debt. ...


Social and economic effects

Since socio-economic status (the socially-created effects of wealth or income) is a positional good which is in fixed supply, any conspicuous consumption generates negative externalities. In fact, conspicuous consumption may be seen as the in-kind scarcity rent of socio-economic status. Minimizing economic inefficiency by capturing this rent and curbing wasteful consumption is an important argument for luxury taxes and other corrective policies. As John Stuart Mill argued: Social status is the standing, the honour or prestige attached to ones position in society. ... A positional good is an intrinsically scarce good whose value is determined by its social context, as opposed to a material good which has innate value. ... An externality occurs in economics when a decision (for example, to pollute the atmosphere) causes costs or benefits to individuals or groups other than the person making the decision. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A tax on products not considered essential, such as expensive cars. ... John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ...

[Luxury taxes] have some properties which strongly recommend them. In the first place, they can never [...] touch those whose whole income is expended on necessaries; while they do reach those by whom what is required for necessaries, is expended on indulgences. In the next place, they operate in some cases as [...] the only useful kind of sumptuary law. I disclaim all asceticism, and by no means wish to see discouraged, either by law or opinion, any indulgence (consistent with the means and obligations of the person using it) which is sought from a genuine inclination for, and enjoyment of, the thing itself; but a great portion of the expenses of the higher and middle classes in most countries [is incurred] from regard to opinion, and an idea that certain expenses are expected from them, as an appendage of station; and I cannot but think that expenditure of this sort is a most desirable subject of taxation. If taxation discourages it, some good is done, and if not, no harm; for in so far as taxes are levied on things which are desired and possessed from motives of this description, nobody is the worse for them. When a thing is bought not for its use but for its costliness, cheapness is no recommendation. As Sismondi remarks, the consequence of cheapening articles of vanity, is not that less is expended on such things, but that the buyers substitute for the cheapened article some other which is more costly, or a more elaborate quality of the same thing; and as the inferior quality answered the purpose of vanity equally well when it was equally expensive, a tax on the article is really paid by nobody: it is a creation of public revenue by which nobody loses.

See also

Affluenza is a term used by critics of consumerism. ... In Marxist theory, commodity fetishism is a state of social relations, said to arise in complex capitalist market systems, in which social relationships center around the values placed on commodities. ... Conspicuous leisure is a term introduced by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). ... Consumerist redirects here. ... Look up keep up with the Joneses in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A positional good is an intrinsically scarce good whose value is determined by its social context, as opposed to a material good which has innate value. ... A commodity is a Veblen good if peoples preference for buying it increases as a direct function of its price. ... Frugality (also known as thrift or thriftiness), often confused with cheapness or miserliness, is a traditional value, life style, or belief system, in which individuals practice both restraint in the acquiring of and resourceful use of economic goods and services in order to achieve lasting and more fulfilling goals. ... Simple living (or voluntary simplicity) is a lifestyle individuals may pursue for a variety of motivations, such as spirituality, health, or ecology. ... Philosophy of futility is a phrase coined by Columbia University marketing professor Paul Nystrom to describe the disposition caused by the monotony of day-to-day work in the new industrial age. ... Hummer is a brand of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) sold by General Motors, also known as GM. They are based on the military High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

References

  • Veblen, Thorstein. (1899) Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions. New York: Macmillan. 400 pp.
  • 1994 Dover paperback edition, ISBN 0-486-28062-4
  • 1994 Penguin Classics edition, ISBN 0-14-018795-2

External links

  • Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, available at Project Gutenberg.
  • Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption, 1902 at Fordham University's "Modern History Sourcebook"

  Results from FactBites:
 
Conspicuous consumption - definition of Conspicuous consumption in Encyclopedia (514 words)
Conspicuous consumption is a term introduced by Thorstein Veblen, the American economist.
Conspicuous consumption or pathological purchasing is a symptom observed in individuals in any society where over-consumption has become a social norm or expectation.
The term is not used to describe such personal disorders as eating disorders, but is generally reserved for those forms of consumption that seem to be fully motivated by social factors.
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/Conspicuous consumption (567 words)
Conspicuous consumption is a term introduced by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).
Conspicuous consumption is a symptom observed in individuals in any society where over-consumption has become a social norm or expectation.
In marketing-terminology the term conspicuous consumption refers to the consumption of goods for the sake of displaying wealth, power, or prestige to others.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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