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.