Styles of Conspicuous Consumption

47604692_o3Veblen defined conspicuous consumption as the use of money or other resources to display social status — but this is done in myriad ways or styles.  Seeing hoodies around town displaying the image on the left, I couldn’t help wonder what Veblen would make of this trend — expensive, branded apparel that literally carries the message that status costs money and implies that money buys status.  What do you make of this trend?  Is there anything new about it?

The above reference to swag refers, of course, to swagger, but “swag” is also a slang term for free stuff (as depicted in this report from Gawker, I Went to the Pre-Oscar Celebrity Gifting Suites and All I Got Was This Sense of Disgust“).  How strange that this term has such radically different meanings in different communities…or is there some common ground?


5 responses to “Styles of Conspicuous Consumption

  1. To start off, I think this trend is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve seen it numerous times and can’t help but think this is foolish. We live in a city where the majority of the population is all for show. I live in a neighborhood where there are some people that live in a shack but have iPhones, Louis Vuitton bags, nice fancy cars, etc. They definitely purchase things like this to boost their social status. All the men will park their fancy cars and have everyone check their cars out, and suddenly they feel so superior. Fine. It’s another thing when the trend and the idea of “swag don’t come cheap” is advertised by Nike. It’s an issue because young kids will feel like they need to live up to the status quo. It will make the less fortunate, feel even more less fortunate and I simply don’t agree with that.

  2. I think that hoodie “swag dont come cheap” is conspicuous consumption because NIKE clothing is expensive and everyone in society knows this. Not only are they displaying a popular symbol (nike) but they are also displaying the wealth by making it known with that slogan.

  3. It is instilled in our society that name brands all of a sudden make the person better just because he or she is wearing a expensive name brand. People have lost their own sense of style and now only look to buy name brand things to show othe rpeople whatthey can afford to put on their backs. It is the “cool” thing to wear nike sneakers. The most insane part of this concept of conspicious consumption is that the poor and lower classes are the ones who buy all the name brands but are yet still living in a horrible neighborhood with no education and nothing to show for it except $200 nike sneakers. Jimmy Jazz for instance I have noticed is only in lower class neighborhoods. WHy? because they know that the people will buy all the flashy sneakers and clothes and they know that the people are uneducated. The same reason why there is a liquor store and beauty store on almost every corner in lower class neighborhoods. Society in neighborhoods like this is designed to keep the people in vain and in misery. It is designed to keep the people where they are at and not let them move up. The people who come from those neighborhoods do not know any better and they think that just because they are buying name brand things they are all of a sudden from a higher class when in reality they are the poorest of the poor.

  4. I still think there is a big misconception of class and status in our society; just because people have expensive “things” it does not make them belong to certain status. I tent to be a little marxist when it come to class, i think there are two types of classes those who work and those who don’t. Now-days, people forget what really matters and count as being part of a society, we have lost many values in the name of “fashion”, “money”, “class”, loosing with them the capacity to recognize honorability in other people and within ourselves.

  5. This society that we are living is based on appearances. Some people can”t afford to buy brand clothing or expensive resources but they will do anything to have it. People love to wear brand name items or to wear something that has their name. by doing this they will show a conspicuous consumption

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