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This paper traces the roots of modern American conspicuous consumption and offers an explanation as to the underlying motive driving this unique consumption behavior. The desire to conspicuously consume dates back to tribal times when men possessed women and slaves as trophies of their status Vablen Since that time, although the players and what is consumed have changed, the game of ostentatious ownership has remained essentially the same, with the winners being awarded status, prestige and honor.
Early in the game, only the aristocratic elite could play. Yet as societies became industrialized, players of achieved wealth, or the nouveau rich, followed by those of moderate and even negligible success entered the game.
Some argue that flagrant consumptive behavior is the unfortunate result of capitalism VeblenMarx GalbraithToynbeeStanfield and Stanfieldwhile others note that material ownership helps us to define who we are GoffmanBelkSolomonMcCrackenLevy Further, he suggests that by studying overt displays of wealth both between and within social groups, we may better understand what Fashion history research paper propelled Western societies headlong into their present preoccupation with material possessions.
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how modern American conspicuous consumption has developed through time and over societies. First, three theories of conspicuous consumption are briefly reviewed. Then, a periodization scheme is used to explain and compare traditional, achieving, affluent Mason and post-affluent societies as they relate to conspicuous consumption.
The earliest of which was put forth by Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class, first published in To Veblen, lavish spending was "symptomatic of the superfluous life-style of the rich.
Wearing diamond-studded jewelry and overindulging in luxurious foods and alcohol This theory states that people preoccupied with social status reject products that are perceived to be possessed by the common populace. This type of exclusive consumption guarantees a measure of social prestige Masonp.
Between these extremes, various other schoiars have offered insights on buyer motivation to consume, further shedding light on conspicuous consumption behavior.
Other explanations offering insights as to why people behave pretentiously include: In addition to highlighting various social reasons driving conspicuous consumption behavior, it should also be noted that there are those scholars who believe that social factors have nothing to do with such behavior.
Instead they propose that personality or innate human desires drive such displays. Marshallfor example, theorized that the desire to conspicuously consume comes with us from the cradle and never leaves us till we go the grave ".
Further, he notes that this desire is "the most powerful of human passions"p. Similarly, Rae believed that it was a human innate desire to be self-indulgent in order to express vanity. In the following sections of this analysis, the methodology and limitations to the study are respectively discussed.
Then, many of the theoretical explanations of conspicuous consumption just noted will be evaluated as they apply to traditional, achieving, affluent, and postaffluent societies.
Again, the purpose of analyzing each societal period is to exemplify how conspicuously consumptive behavior has changed over time and through societies. It involves the collection, analysis, and synthesis of data.
Specifically, for this study, a judgement sample of research materials was taken from various economic, sociology, and marketing scholars. Although not written as specific historical investigations on conspicuous consumption, many offer an historical look at the then-to-current social and economic factors behind ostentatious behavior.
Such research, when integrated with current studies on the use of goods as status communicators, and when compared across academic disciplines, provide for a rich understanding of the changing influences driving conspicuous consumption.
Moreover, it is not the purpose of this study to provide an exhaustive detailed examination of this exceptional form of consumer behavior, but rather to review how it has developed and changed over time.
Yet the purpose of using a periodization framework for this study, is simply to identify dominant trends of conspicuous consumption over time in order to give the reader an overall understanding of the evolution of this unique consumption behavior.
A Study of Exceptional Consumer Behavior. In his book, he divides the development of conspicuous consumption into three stages:Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, Pages A HISTORY OF CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION. Christine Page, Department of Marketing, University of Colorado.
ABSTRACT - Conspicuous consumption refers to the ostentatious display of wealth for the purpose of acquiring or maintaining status or prestige. About this site. The Food Timeline was created and maintained solely by Lynne Olver (, her obituary), reference librarian with a passion for food iridis-photo-restoration.com it she originally said " Information is checked against standard reference tools for accuracy.
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