Conspicuous Consumption


Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption made me think of why many people are in debt. With money that they do not have, they tend to splurge on brand names and feel some kind of satisfaction after their purchase. Without thinking that they have gone broke, all society cares about is “fitting in” and how they are looked at. If a wealthy friend of yours posts a picture of themselves wearing Christian Louboutin heels (which are the most uncomfortable shoes) people will praise them and their friends who see the picture might even end up buying the same $600 shoes, although they cannot afford it. People will also go out of their way to buy fake Louboutins or any heels with red bottoms. It’s all about fitting in and it doesn’t come cheap. Even new “hipster” looks do not come cheap–in order to have that “bum” look consisting of loose shirts, ripped jeans, and cozy oversized sweaters there is a price to pay for that outfit, about $80. In my opinion, I think most of us are guilty of conspicuous consumption whether you like it or not. That’s just how society has raised us. 



9 responses to “Conspicuous Consumption

  1. I definitely agree that conspicuous consumption is rampant and for sure leads to many people living beyond their means. A friend of mine was just remarking about a girl he took out on a date and how she had expensive Louboutin shoes, and how impressive he thought that was. He said that she told him that her parents let her spend as much money on designer clothing as she wanted because she agreed to go to a much cheaper (but less revered) college. Reactions like this fuel our need to possess items that have social cache, even if purchasing them will drastically impact our financial situation. People will make decisions based on how they will be perceived in the moment or in the near future, and choose options that place a higher import on this sort of “honor” rather than on options that could provide a more stable economic future.

  2. It upsets me how Veblen’s idea of conspicuous consumption rings true in today’s society — in very extreme ways I must add. As if swimming in debt wasn’t enough, people willing to KILL for these luxury goods; the video shown in class even pointed that out. I know this post is a bit old but I just wanted to share this recent article about a 16 year old boy who shot a man to get his designer jacket this Saturday. What is wrong with us? –that’s a rhetorical question.

    The full article can be found here:

  3. One real interesting aspect of Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption is that he had a particular bad taste for manual workers. I don’t know why it should suprise me, but perhaps its because he considered himself, or was considered to be ‘a witty critic of capitalism’!! As though there is something partiularly funny about people not being able to eat when there is no work. This is the type of systemic arrogance which is hard for the working person to

  4. Yes, I most definitely agree that that’s the way society has raised us. As the years, pass many people are being materialistic and buying name brand things; they can not afford in order to “fit in” and that’s what causes people to end up in debt. It’s sad to know that people are not saving, but rather spending money they do not have.

  5. I also agree that this society has taught us to live beyond on our means. This is the norm, to fit in and to have the “coolest” most advanced item. Conspicuous Consumption has caused many to be in debt, some people believe that they would rather have the material object than the money, without the material object they feel lesser and ostracized from society. I also believe that we are all guilty of this, some to an extreme extent, others more mild.

  6. I have to agree with you, Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption also makes me think of why so many people are in debt. It leads to people living beyond their means, “I just got my pay check should I buy a weeks worth of food or the new Beats by Dre.” My friend works for a program similiar to the YMCA and he tells me about how some of these kids take home the food they get at the program because they say they don’t have enough money to eat, but they are wearing the newest Jordan’s.

  7. I definitely agree with you on this point. The fact that so many people are in debt ties together perfectly with Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption. People these days would much rather spend their money on a new “hit” or something to symbolize their appearance, rather then stuff they really need like food.

  8. Conspicuous consumption is still very prevalent today. People buy name brand products in order to appear as though they have a high enough social status to own these goods. I find it funny that we see this all the time in NYC. Why do people want to appear as though they have money even though this is a large city where people barely know each other? I feel overall, people mind their own business in New York. In a capitalist society, having money makes one feel good about themselves. Therefore, if you appear as though you have more money, you may feel more confident knowing you can own goods that almost everyone else has.

  9. #4.Veblen’s Theory on conspicuous consumption is highly present today. The way individuals often display a higher social status just to fit in with what is currently trending. We often see people buy things that they cant really afford for instances buying expensive handbags and watches instead of saving their money. But I would certainly agree that “most of us are guilty of conspicuous consumption whether you like it or not.” For instance, i do not like to buy my makeup products from local pharmacies; Even though i do know that they are just as good as MAC cosmetics. If its not from MAC cosmetics i wont wear it.

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