|Revised Academic Paper on Conspicuous Consumption|
By The Ram
Posted 13 Jun 2012 13:25
For those of you who didn't read the last one, enjoy this huge amount of info. For those who did, enjoy the DLC recently added to this paper. Fourth revision, 8 weeks of research.
Academic Paper on Conspicuous Consumption
Conspicuous consumption is on a recent but steady rise to becoming regular once more, particularly among the rich, but also among less affluent or previously-less affluent consumers, as evidenced by these past articles. Fuel costs are a deterrent when it comes to buying luxury vehicles, however, jewelry and other material goods or services are less consequential. Spending will only benefit higher-end stores and service-providers, since it's in their favor not to bother setting up shop near lower-income areas. This then involves trickle-down economics, becoming a factor when discussing conspicuous consumption, and may be a thought that helps drive a person to purchase something. In theory, by buying a car, that consumer has just added another number to a salespersons' commissions total, which may result in a bonus for that employee, which may then result in a purchase by that consumer, which in turn will further drive our economy. However, that is all theoretical, and only happens to some degree. It is not likely to happen when an expensive necklace is bought, as it would not be cost-efficient to employ two new people when it only took one to sell the jewelry and you already have two others pitching sales to other potential buyers. There is no evidence that convinces them they need to hire more people.
Geographical location also has a significant effect, as does race. In a study conducted by both the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, when comparing a $100,000-a-year person in Alabama and a $100,000 person in Boston, the $100,000 person in Alabama does more visible consumption than the $100,000 person in Massachusetts. When comparing between races, the study found that white consumers spent more on private goods, such as a better bathroom or furniture, or services such as house-keeping, compared to black consumers, who spent more on visible goods, such as sports cars or jewelry. These c onsumers are able to be placed in one of two groups, “patricians” and “parvenus”, with “the latter group ever intent on deriving status through what it buys”. In addition, patrician consumers are not as modest when it comes to luxury purchasing, such as clothing or jewelry, choosing not to exert restraint during difficult economic times. This behavior spans more than just the upper class, as it bears a similar trait to the evidence earlier in this paragraph, as a possible way for economically challenged people to “prove” themselves fiscally in society. Clothing has been affected by conspicuous consumption recently as well, with designer brands placing the brand-name more openly on the clothing article, giving the impression that the consumer needs to present “proof” that they are wealthy.
People are increasingly focusing on experiences, prompting “the experience economy” to take the place of the fading “Material Economy”, which boomed following WWII and is now experiencing the effects of having overshot the consumer market's demands. This has led to more local spending and travel, as theater and musical concerts have received a large amount of attention from this sudden shift from “buying the newest SUV” to “seeing the newest play”. The possible downside to this is how attending or participating in events could become subject to flaunting ones' social status instead of wealth. (ie: Attending Lollapalooza versus attending Gospel Fest.)
When one talks about conspicuous consumption, it is usually in a negative connotation, that it is used merely to flaunt ones' own wealth. This, however, is not always the case, but is usually perceived as flaunting. When someone purchases something, like, a boat, it is typically perceived as conspicuous consumption. But what if the motive was not to display ones' wealth, but because the consumer wanted a boat to go fishing in, or to go on a leisurely day trip, depending on the location? This has helped over the past 8 weeks form my opinion that one needs to identify clearly any contributing factors to an expensive purchase. That still does not excuse the person who decides to buy their 5th yacht, but that's why analyzing everything is important, so as not to assume that there is no utility gained from the purchase.
Something that might compel a wealthy person to start caring for their fellow humans, could be actually examining the condition under which some people live, be it paycheck-to-paycheck, relying on religious entities' donations and care, or food pantry. Seeing these kind of living circumstances up close might make someone realize how futile it is to spend money on a BMW when you could make a contribution, be it time or money, to something as helpful as the Great Chicago Food Depository. Through this way, the wealthy could shed some of the negative stigma surrounding their position I society, even if only to amend that.
|Featured: Yes (Takis Teh Greek)|