Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Conspicuous consumption
(843 words)

1. Definition

Conspicuous consumption is a kind of behavior whose goal is to maintain or improve one’s social status or to document it outwardly (ostentatiously). The relationship between social position and the conspicuous expenditure required to establish it exercised both philosophers and legislators repeatedly from the late Middle Ages on. In the 19th and 20th centuries, economists and social scientists also grappled with this question.

 The great representatives of classical soci…

Cite this page
Ago, Renata, “Conspicuous consumption”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 14 October 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_028228>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20170206



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