Symbolic Consumption

Symbolic consumption refers to the meanings conveyed by goods or other consumables, such as entertainment, leisure activities, cultural practices, and group membership in a broader social group. The term reminds us of the socially assigned meaning to goods, often tied to desirable attributes for certain identifiable groups in specific contexts. For example, symbolic consumption could refer to a woman's wardrobe, where she “dresses for success” and displays an identifiable business attire style on the city streets of New York. In the past 40 years, during a period of significant increases in consumed goods across the world, many scholars have addressed the symbolic or meaning-making properties of what people purchase, use, and display. Symbolic consumption has been addressed primarily in consumer studies, but also in anthropology, ...

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