Positional goods were defined by Fred Hirsch as those goods whose value for the consumer who owns them depends more on how they compare with the goods consumed by others than on their direct utility. According to Hirsch, as the level of average consumption rises, so does the relevance—though also the negative side effects—of positional consumption. In the material economy, said Hirsch, the production of goods can be increased through technological innovations without loss of quality, but things are different for the positional economy. Here, people's relative position is measured by the access to and possession of goods that are scarce or become scarce as an effect of social competition. Competing for rare antiques and works of art, for leadership positions, for secluded leisure land ...

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