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Please help me for a class - Presentation

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey all, For a Consumer Behavior class that I'm taking, I need to create a presentation based on the statement: "people today use consumption to assert who they are socially, culturally, and psychologically". I want to focus primarily on the segment who defines who they are through luxury goods and such. Basically, if anyone knows of any articles that may be useful for me, please link them. I want to also touch on how materialism is dangerous to society, and how the middle class buys expensive goods to become 'upper class' though the real wealthy people are more conservative with their money. I recall a post made by LabelKing a while back about school-aged girls in Japan who resorted to selling their bodies to get money for LV purses. Also, the recent discussion on 'clothes and the rich' would be helpful - especially if anyone knows sites with hard facts on how much people in different income brackets spend. Thanks.
post #2 of 12
I recall a post made by LabelKing a while back about school-aged girls in Japan who resorted to selling their bodies to get money for LV purses.  
Helo VersaceMan, I can suggest the books Affluenza, Luxury Fever and Trading Up. They do not deal with clothing in particular but discuss the general trend of the "lower" classes using luxury products to create an "upper" class lifestyle. While at the topic, I must caution you that school-aged girls in other countries often sell their bodies for less than an LV purse. Good luck.
post #3 of 12
I don't how much time you have, but you might want to pick up this book titled Cult Heroes: How to be famous for more than 15 minutes It's out of print, but there appear to be numerous copies available. The entire focus of the book is about how people use luxury items to define who they are - and how designer and celebrity names are used to market those items. It was published in 1990 and focuses on designers and items such as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, perfume by Paloma Picasso, watches and sunglasses by Ferdinand Porsche and clothing by Bjorn Borg (don't know what happened to that one.) If you have time to order and read it, I would recommend it. Bradford
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help, guys. My presentation date is Feb 28th. Keep the replies coming.
post #5 of 12
If you haven't already included Veblen, "Theory of the Leisure Class", and Paul Fussell, "Class", they'd be useful. Also, if you look on the J D Erickson clothes site (discussed here), you should read the "original" George Frazier Esquire 1960 article about the best-dressed (clothes, social clubs, private schools, professsions all going hand-in-hand for the "elite" -'nuff said).
post #6 of 12
Along with Stylestudent's comments I would check out The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles by Pierre Bourdieu. Within sociology its considered one of the seminal looks at what people do and use to define class. Good luck. A.
post #7 of 12
post #8 of 12
Versace: While I can't cite specific case studies, this is not a new phenomenon in the marketplace. In my marketing classes back in the mid-70s we looked at brand name purchases by African-American households; specifically at "high end" brands and how the purchase motivation was almost totally to gain status. Little if any consideration was given to quality. It was interesting to see how a manufacturer's advertising message would subtly change from mainstream publications to Ebony or Essence. The preponderence of logo-bearing clothing might also figure into this: RLP, Tommy, etc. I remember when Tommy was an up-and-coming WASP-ish department store brand. Now, I think, it is favored by largely an urban, hiphop buyer. Sorry I can't be of more specific help. DR
post #9 of 12
Of course humans will use luxury goods to establish social standing and reproductive fitness. That is just biological instinct, and it is present even in insects. With any animal species, such as humans, establishing the alpha is the primary means of identifying specific members of a given species most adapted to environmental conditions (the "strongest"), and therefore the most likely to survive. Just like any other biological entity, humans are driven to survive, and to reproduce in order to ensure survival of the species. Have you ever seen one of those personal ads where a woman will say, "I am looking for someone who is financially secure"? You may scoff at it, but subconsciously, every woman when picking her male mating partner (or vice-versa) will determine if they believe this person "secure" - the definition of that security will depend mostly on the definition provided by the social group to which they belong, and the environmental conditions in which the group operates. The use of luxury goods as display of reproductive and social fitness is a strong reflection of the evolution of free-market economies, and the change in environmental conditions caused by the Industrial revolution. It is no longer necessary to find a big, strapping fellow with broad shoulders who will be most capable of sustaining a farm and thereby feeding the female and her offspring (and fighting off predators). It is just not feasible to produce one's own food in the 21st Century, and we use money to hire police officers to protect us from predators. What becomes necessary is to find a partner or mate that is most capable of providing food, shelter and "security" in a context valid to the environmental conditions of the group. And how do we acquire food and shelter? Money. Therefore, those individuals whose capacity to acquire money, and thereby food and "security", will present the greatest fitness for survival to other potential mates. Those who were raised in poverty, or around poverty, will be most blatant with displays of financial fitness, for obvious reasons. They are more desparate to prove, to their own social group which might be struggling with poverty and hence survival, that they are capable of providing money for the social group and increasing its capacity for survival. By doing this, they are establishing greater reproductive fitness, which is the primary goal of all biological entities. And when reproduction occurs, the "strongest" genetic material is carried on into the next generation, strengthening the group as a whole. For those who operate in a social group with great wealth already, financial fitness is no longer of primary concern to survival of the group. Any members of the group will already be of great financial fitness, or at least enough to neutralize the imminent threat of extinction due to lack of resources. The change of environmental conditions will lead to an adaptation by the group to its new conditions, and a refining of the traits viewed by the social group to be of primary importance to its survival or increased growth. So it is less likely that luxury goods or other displays of money would have anywhere near the importance in establishing the alpha member(s). This abstraction of dominant reproductive traits in social animals has been well described by some French naturalist/biologist, I think around the 50's or 60's, who I have completely forgot the name of. It has been 10 years since I was in college, give me a break.
post #10 of 12
You might check out a few stories that I forget the details of but remember the premise... Perrier - If memory serves, sales were awful at the start until they upped the price considerably.... then it sold like crazy. I've noticed in recent years that it evidently costs more to filter the petroleum products out of water than it does to filter the water out of petroleum products - laughable since you can 'make' pure water with a RO machine for pennies. Take Evian for example - what's it spell backwards? There are a few similar ones that slip my mind right now (no great accomplishment) but I'll look :-) So... will you publish the article here? LOL, that oughtta be a 125 response thread.
post #11 of 12
hey imageWIS - Here's a quote from that article: "Shopping malls, according to the Newsweek article, are becoming a favored place for pimps to recruit youth, and for men seeking illicit interactions with teens." I think the absurdity of that statement speaks for itself. Then the article goes on to say that rappers are trying to promote "pimp" culture, and causing the rate of prostitution in the suburbs to increase wildly, as if it is fashionable now. Talk about nonsense. Old white people should not share their laughably clueless opinions when it comes to styles and trends. They just don't know what they're talking about. A perfect example: at one point in American history, jazz music was thought to cause interracial marriage, drunkenness, violent behaviour, and at times, demon possession. I am not making this up. The same is true for Blues. Unfortunately, in America, we have always had "experts" (read, racists) with rather hysterical opinions about black culture and its affects on the snowy white population of the suburbs.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
A perfect example:  at one point in American history, jazz music was thought to cause interracial marriage, drunkenness, violent behaviour, and at times, demon possession.  
What, you mean it doesn't??? Thanks for the replies. Good call on the Perrier, Carlo. The brands in discussion don't need to be strictly clothing/watches/jewelry, just anything that people buy for the image.
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