Conspicuous Consumption

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The purpose of this essay is to discuss the concepts of conspicuous consumption and pecuniary emulation as Veblen has written about then in The Theory of the Leisure Class.

According to conventional economic wisdom, the acquisition and accumulation of goods is mainly for the purpose of the consumption of those goods in order to serve the consumer physical wants or his higher wants (spiritual, aesthetic, intellectual, etc). Veblen argues that this is not the case that at the core of ownership is emulation. There is not a better explanation for the consumption of goods and especially there is not any incentive other than this for the accumulation of wealth. Once a person has achieve certain level of physical comfort and has passed the level of subsistence, the …show more content…

Therefore conspicuous consumption is directly associated with pecuniary emulation. The important aspect of this type of consumption is to show the capacity to consume in this way; and by doing so gain or retain a good name. For the purpose of reputability what is important in conspicuous consumption is the element of waste. Veblen uses waste as a technical term to emphasis when an expenditure of a good is incurred in the ground of an invidious pecuniary comparison. For expenditure not to be considered conspicuous waste, its purpose must serve directly to further the life process without any personal bias. This is the basis of what Veblen would call the instinct of workmanship which inclines human beings to deprecate waste of substance or effort. But most of the goods consume in society show both aspects of conspicuous waste (ceremonial aspect) and a useful purpose (technological aspect). The difference between pecuniary emulation and conspicuous consumption is that the former is a ceremonial aspect of human behavior and the latter has both aspects of human behavior ceremonial and

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