Definition of Conspicuous Consumption
(noun) The purchase of expensive luxury goods or services as a display of one’s wealth and status.
Examples of Conspicuous Consumption
- Veblen goods, which are products that are in demand primarily because of their high price and serve as status symbols. Examples of Veblen goods include designer handbags, jewelry, and luxury cars.
- Michael Jackson buying artwork, as seen in the documentary “Living with Michael Jackson”, directed by Martin Bashir.
- Missy Elliott’s fetish for cars, as indicated by her appearance in the Lady Sovereign song “Love Me Or Hate Me”, where she mentions in passing that she has twelve cars.
Conspicuous Consumption Pronunciation
Syllabification: con·spic·u·ous con·sump·tion
- American English – /kuhn-spIk-yuh-wuhs kuhn-sUHmpshUHn/
- British English – /kuhn-spIk-yuuhs kuhn-sUHmpshUHn/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /kənˈspɪkjuəs kənˈsʌmpʃən/
- British English – /kənˈspɪkjʊəs kənˈsʌm(p)ʃən/
- Plural: conspicuous consumptions
- Term coined by Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929) in The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions (1899).
- Conspicuous leisure, also coined by Veblen, is the demonstration of one’s high status through the pursuit of leisure or nonproductive activities.
- Conspicuous waste refers to destroying valuable goods (e.g., potlatch) to demonstrate status.
- Economic Sociology Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “conspicuous” and “consumption” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
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Cite the Definition of Conspicuous Consumption
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “conspicuous consumption.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/conspicuous-consumption/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
conspicuous consumption. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/conspicuous-consumption/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “conspicuous consumption.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/conspicuous-consumption/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“conspicuous consumption.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/conspicuous-consumption/>.