February 25, 2019

Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” updated…



“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure...In other words, the conspicuous consumer spends money to impress other people and to ensure that others are well aware of the spender’s socioeconomic status.”
        Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
        Norwegian-American economist and sociologist
        In his book 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).

“Being thin is a kind of inconspicuous consumption that distinguishes the rich at a time when most poor people can more easily afford to be fat than thin. Since idealized sex objects are modeled partly on class-associated images, this is surely a factor. For a man to have a thin woman in his arm is a sign of his own worth, and a woman increases her market value by being slender. Fat women are either accorded a nonsexual status in this system, or else (and less publicly) are granted a degraded 'lower class' kind of animal sexuality.”
        Marcia Millman
        Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz
        In her book Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America (1980), Chapter 6


“Conspicuous waste beyond the imagination of Thorstein Veblen has become the mark of American life.  As a nation we find ourselves overbuilt, if not overhoused; overfed, although millions of poor people are undernourished; overtransported in overpowered cars; and also . . . overdefended or overdefensed.” 
        Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)
        U.S. Democratic politician and author
        In his book America Revisited (1978)


“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.”
        Kevin McElroy
        American investment analyst
        In a post on his blog on the Wyatt Investment website
        The base price of the newest model of the Tesla Roadster is $200,000.


“Many...rich Americans aren’t just rich; they are responsibly rich. They made their money the new fashioned way: They worked for it. But they know that luck, not sweat, graced their paths. Their focus is on giving back, not taking more. They pay their taxes, found real charities, endow universities, support hospitals, fund medical research and gamble on products that can help us all. Their lives are lives of conspicuous philanthropy, not conspicuous consumption.”
        Laurence Kotlikoff
        Professor of Economics at Boston University and columnist for The Hill political website
        In an opinion piece arguing against imposing huge taxes on wealthy Americans


“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.”
        Michael Giuliano
        Film critic and Professor of Film/Interdisciplinary Arts at Howard University
        In a “capsule review” of Sex and the City 2 in the Fort Meade, Maryland newspaper in 2010


“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.”
        Lonnie Lazar
        American technology writer, musician, web designer and attorney
        In his column on the Cult of Mac website


“Veblen argues that no class, not even the poorest, forgoes all conspicuous consumption. This is even truer of inconspicuous consumption. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a T-shirt with a Caesar’s Palace logo from the half-price rack at Wal-Mart or a hamburger in a bag sporting McDonald’s golden arches. Even the street person can fish things out of the local trash can. Many of the poor spend inordinate amounts on such inconspicuous consumption and, in the process, may ignore essential needs and purchases. This tends to support Veblen’s view that people will endure a quite shabby private life to have the public symbols they deem desirable.”
        George Ritzer
        American sociologist
        In his book Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption (2005), Chapter 10

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February 3, 2019

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (And recount some of the countless variations)


“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
       English poet
       The famous opening words of Sonnet 43, from her Sonnets from the Portuguese
(written 1845-46, published 1850)
       Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett fell deeply in love after meeting at her father’s home in 1845. Elizabeth soon began writing a series of poems expressing her love for Robert. Robert was soon calling her by the pet name
“my little Portuguese,” a reference to her dark hair and complexion. In 1846, they eloped. Four years later, the love poems Elizabeth had written for Robert before they married were published in an anthology of her poetry, under the collective title Sonnets from the Portuguese. Sonnet 43 is the best known. Its ten opening words are among the most famous — and most parodied — bits of poetry in the English language.


“How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...
1. Don’t”

        One of the countless Grumpy Cat memes


“How are Donald Trump and Abraham Lincoln similar? Let us count the ways.”
        Gene Weingarten
        Acerbic American columnist
        Headline of his October 11, 2018 column about the “meme spreading earnestly across the right aisle of the Internet contending that Donald Trump is such a great president that the only predecessor he can be fairly compared to is … Abraham Lincoln.”
        How do those two presidents compare? Refer to Grumpy Cat's answer above.


“Why Do People Hate The Patriots? Let Me Count The Ways...
1. People are tired of them winning...
2. People hate when you don’t care that you're hated...
3. The most legitimate reason is probably the Deflategate investigation...
4. Another reason is because of Brady and Donald Trump’s friendship...
5. People really do not like the Patriots.”

        Yasaman Khorsandi
        American freelance journalist
        In her column in the Elite Daily website, January 30, 2018. Flash forward to 2019. I suspect there are even more reasons.


“How do I hate GLEE? Let me count the ways. For starters, this is a saccharine snorefest. And don’t even get me started on gleeks, autotune, the characters…”
Daniel Bettridge
       British TV and film critic
In a review posted on The Guardian’s TV & Radio Blog on March 15, 2010


“Is Mitt Romney, well-coiffed automobile heir and consulting savant, weird? Let us count the ways.”
Juli Weiner             
       American writer now on the staff of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver             
In a post on Vanity Fair’s “VF Daily” blog, August 9, 2011


“Ah, Nancy how do I love thee, let me count the ways. You stimulate me to no end. My heart flutters when I think about your passing Obamacare. And of course we all know you come from that wonderful city of San Francisco that so embraces our core American values like a collective hate of the McDonald’s Happy Meal.”
Dr. Richard Swier
       Conservative blogger and host of the Dr. Rich Show, a Florida-based radio talk show
a November 14, 2010 post bashing Nancy Pelosi, on the now defunct “Red County” website


“How Much Do I Love Ryan Gosling’s Arms? Let Me Count The Ways.
1. They’re huge.
2. They can envelop a pack of wild animals.
3. They were in Young Hercules. (LOL)
4. He can probably crush a can of spinach with the contents flying directly into his mouth Popeye-style.
5. He could probably grill paninis in between his hands.
6. He can hoist Al Roker up over his head, Dirty Dancing style.” 
       Michelle Collins
       American comedian and talk show host who was Managing Editor of VH1’s now defunct Bestweekever.tv site
       Gushing about Gosling in
a post on Bestweekever.tv, after seeing him in an appearance on the Today Show.

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