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Stratum plus. 2013. №6

V. S. Ratseeva (Kishinev, Moldova)

Towards the Origins of “Prestige” Cult in Consumption

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Pages: 285-303

An attempt at deconstructing the modern concept of “prestige” is presented in the context of accounting for different types of socially oriented consumption strategies and the fetishization of prestige factors of consumer behavior in the contemporary world. The necessity of turning to etymological origins of the word and the phenomenon behind it was stipulated by the presence of some serious terminological inaccuracies that preceded the introduction into mass circulation
of the notion “prestigious consumption” in some post-Soviet states.
The detailed lexicographical analysis of the genesis of “prestige” is combined with the study of the socio-cultural context wherein the forming of the phenomenon that the word describes took place. It’s argued that such factors as absolutist monarchy principles, the aesthetic sphere and the literary (and consequently political) public domain played the key role in the gradual process of acquiring by “prestige” of its modern meaning.
The undertaken analysis serves as a basis for elaborating a definition of “prestigious consumption” with an emphasis on its pronounced symbolic nature and the inevitable interdependence with the power redistribution system. An innovative categorical distinction between the concepts of “conspicuous”- and “prestigious consumption” is proposed, basing on A. Schutz’s classifi cation of motives for everyday action.

Keywords: prestige, conspicuous consumption, prestigious consumption, anthropology of consumption, ideologies of consumption

Information about author:

Veronica Ratseeva
(Kishinev, Moldova). Doctor of Philosophy.
E-mail: [email protected]

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