Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Critical Lexicon: Entry #247

Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services that are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth rather than to satisfy a real need of the consumer. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status.

Invidious consumption, a necessary corollary, is the term applied to consumption of goods and services for the deliberate purpose of inspiring envy in others.

The challenge for LarryLy: Engage the concepts of conspicuous and invidious consumption without unduly vilifying the consumer. Without being all Bill Cosby about it, discuss the ways in which these forms of consumption shaped your experiences in urban New Jersey and in the black baptist church.

You will, of course, want to foreground the ways in which your analysis is informed by your current socioeconomic position, however tenuous it may be.