July 19, 2010

Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” gets updated…


ORIGIN OF THE FAMOUS TERM:

“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability...No class of society, not even the most abjectly poor, forgoes all customary conspicuous consumption.”
       Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
       American sociologist and economist
       The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Chapter 4
       Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the way some people use obviously lavish spending to demonstrate their wealth (often regardless of whether they are actually wealthy).


THE TESLA VERSION:

“The Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) roadster has a 1,000 pound battery that needs to be replaced every 7 years at a cost of about $36,000...It’s conspicuous consumption for wealthy liberals — in much the same way that huge SUVs were the vehicle of choice for rich conservatives a few years ago.”
       Investment analyst Kevin McElroy
       On his blog, July 16, 2010
       The base price of a Tesla Roadster is $101,500


SEX IN THE CITY VERSION:

“Sex and the City 2” (R) Sarah Jessica Parker and her gal pals are back in a bloated commercial for conspicuous consumption. It amounts to a long shopping trip through Manhattan followed by a long shopping trip through a resort hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
       Film critic Mike Giuliano
       In a “capsule review” posted on July 1, 2010


IPHONE MOD VERSION:

“The new champion of conspicuous consumption – iPhone division, the Kings Button iPhone mod, in which Austrian jeweler Peter Aloisson will encrust your device in three kinds of 18-carat gold (white, yellow and rose) and 6.6 carats of diamonds, for the ‘What Financial Crisis?’ sum of $2.5 million.”
       Tech blogger Lonnie Lazar
       On the Cult of Mac site, Feb. 26, 2009


THE KIDDY VERSION:

“The only thing sadder than this diamond pacifier is that it is available for $17,000 online. While we’re all for conspicuous consumption and the oppression of the proletariat, there’s something about submitting babies to our powerful consumerist tendencies that just doesn’t sit right with us.”
       Tech blogger John Biggs
       On the Gizmodo site, June 5, 2006


THE COUGAR VERSION:

“A few weeks ago, there was a newspaper report on how ‘middle-aged’ women in the US…were suddenly purchasing sexy lingerie. Now, it wouldn’t have caused much of a stir if 20-somethings were doing the same...But just because 50-something women are sporting sexy innerwear, it’s become conspicuous consumption.”
       Blogger Sushmita Bose
       On the LiveMint.com site, July 11, 2010


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