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Conspicuous consumption: Is that all bad? investigating the alternative paradigm
Published in SAGE Publications Ltd
Volume: 35
Issue: 4
Pages: 53 - 59
Effort in studying the phenomenon of conspicuous consumption can be adequately justified by the concept’s near universality and timelessness. The Theory of Veblen presents conspicuousness as a purposive conduct in which status considerations predominate. His opinion regarding individuals’ efforts “to excel in pecuniary standing” indicates his positioning of conspicuous consumption as consumers’ deliberate, conscious activity to achieve the objective of status enhancement. Our everyday experience suggests that the nature of conspicuous consumption (CC) is going through a change, which remains largely unaddressed by the extant literature (for details see, Chaudhuri and Majumdar, 2006). This calls for a closer investigation of the dynamics of a more contemporary perspective of CC and the present paper takes an attempt at the same. For long, in modern societies where ‘order’ is of supreme importance, CC has been considered as a ‘sinful,’ ‘wasted’ expense that delivers no value. Possibly because of this, lavish expenditure was branded wasteful as the practice symbolized exception (Mason, 1981) or “disorder.” However, with evolving ideologies of postmodernism, consumption also gradually moved to the symbolic realm. This symbolic consumption helps the consumer to express his/her self and achieve a sense of continuity and identity. By adopting abstract interpretations and ascribing complex cultural meaning to products, those with “higher” taste but less money would aim to compete with those with money but no matching taste. The cultural ‘elite,’ thus, can make even a mundane or an easily affordable product to express and exhibit their exclusive taste, by sophisticated, in-depth appreciation and appropriate communication of these ‘taste-symbols’ which, by design, remain distinct from ‘status-symbols’. Based on the above discussion, the paper proposes an alternative conceptualization of the conspicuous consumption construct and also discusses the marketing implications. © 2010, SAGE Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.
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PublisherData powered by TypesetSAGE Publications Ltd
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