The Diderot effect addresses the relationship between consumption and culture, the complementarity of consumer goods and a key mechanism underpinning the escalation of consumer demand. It is named after Denis Diderot (1713–84) and his reflections in an essay titled “Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown.” Here, Diderot details a process set in motion as a result of receiving a new dressing gown as a gift from a friend. He was initially happy to replace his old dressing gown, but in doing so, the other items in his study suddenly looked unsatisfactory. Piece by piece, he was compelled to replace everything until the whole room was transformed to match his “imperious scarlet robe.” Diderot finds himself lamenting the loss of the original dressing gown, ...

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