Conspicuous Consumption

DEFINITION of 'Conspicuous Consumption'

The purchase of goods or services for the specific purpose of displaying one's wealth. Conspicuous consumption is a means to show ones social status, especially when the goods and services publicly displayed are too expensive for other members of a person's class. This type of consumption is typically associated with the wealthy but can also apply to any economic class. The concept of consumerism stems from conspicuous consumption.

BREAKING DOWN 'Conspicuous Consumption'

The term was coined by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his 1889 book, "The Theory of the Leisure Class." This type of consumption was considered to be a product of the developing middle class during the 19th and 20th centuries. This group had a greater percentage of disposable income to spend on goods and services that were generally not considered to be necessary.

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