Patterns of Consumption


Patternsof Consumption

Patternsof Consumption

Consumptionis a very complex phenomenon. One of the modern philosophers who madea huge contribution in the understanding of consumption was GeorgSimmel, a German sociologists and philosopher in the late 19thcentury. In his social individuality and fragmentation analysis, helooked at how the desire to socialize with other people influencestheir consumption. He viewed fashion in the context of socialrelationship where individuals use it to confirm to the demands ofthe social group. Fashion is also used by some individuals in thesociety to individualize themselves and deviate from the generalcharacteristics of the society. As the rest of the society adopts thefashion, this social group inevitably adopts a newer fashion (Miller,2001). The consumption patterns in the groups in the article areinfluenced by the fashions rather than display of social and economicstatus. He would explain the social motives of consumption based onfashion rather than social status. As other members of the societyaccess this fashion, they would no longer consider it fashionable andtherefore would not opt to spend money on it.

ThorsteinVeblen, an American sociologists and anti capitalism economists inthe early 20thcentury introduced the concept of conspicuous consumption andconspicuous leisure. He argued that people spend money and acquiregoods that are considered to be luxurious to display their financialpower. This means that individual consumption can be used to acquireor maintain a particular social and economic status. He wouldtherefore agree with the finding of the article that consumers tendto buy luxury goods to acquire of maintain a particular socialstatus. As a result, people in lower social and economic class tendto emulate the leisure class by changing their consumption patternsto attain a higher class (Miller, 2001). However, he would not agreewith Simmel view of consumption. Based on his argument, people wouldfor example, buy a luxury car not because of fashion but because itis a sign of power. However, both would agree that associating andconforming to a particular group of people influence consumptionpatterns.


Han,Y. Nunes, J. &amp Dreze, X. (2010). “Signaling Status with LuxuryGoods: The Role of Brand Prominence”, Journalof Marketing,74(4).

Miller,D. (2001). Consumption:Theory and issues in the study of consumption,New York, Taylor &amp Francis.