Sunday, June 21, 2009

Conspicuous Blogging

An interesting article about changes in the ways people are signalling status - a switch from conspicuous consumption of material goods to online signalling through the number of Facebook friends say. I'm not sure quite how important this is as a trend in quantitative terms but there is certainly something in it. It fits in with similar news from Japan. Of course those of us in academia have long signalled our status through publication, citation, winning research grants etc. and the same has been true of other professions such as art or music. Conspicuous production rather than consumption. I commented in my 1997 paper in Ecological Economics that apart from basic needs the goods and services that consumers use are to some degree arbitrary and historically contingent and that other perhaps less environmentally destructive goods and services might satisfy the same wants.

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