Consuming to Achieve Distinction
Check out this blog post by Henrik Killander in the Lund Business Review
(Photo credit: Lund Business Review)
Do you know the difference between a nerd, a snob and a connoisseur?
Killander reports on research being conducted by a team of researchers at Lund University. As it turns out, nerds and connoisseurs are similar in one important respect: they have both accumulated a depth and breadth of knowledge about one specific consumer interest. The difference between the two groups "lies in the public perception of their object of interest. While connoisseurs are interested in high-culture areas, nerds are interested in newer trends such as coffee or beer, which have more often been regarded as low-culture. They love them despite the fact that they do not necessarily endow high-status, which is not the case with snobs."
So, who are the snobs? Well, as it turns out, snobs lack the depth of knowledge and passion of either the connoisseur or the nerd. Instead, they adopt a certain interest and learn just enough about it to pass themselves off as connoisseurs. Their behaviour is motivated by a search for social distinction, that is, as a means of setting themselves apart (and above) others. Do you know a snob - someone who knows just enough to pass as someone really knowledgeable?
The blog post asks whether we are all becoming snobs as a result of the democratization of the market. As products and services once reserved for the elite (think works of art or spa services) become available to everyone, does that mean we are all now consuming as snobs? You may think that as students you don't have enough income to become a snob, but think again. I see lots of expensive laptops, tablets and smart phones in the hands of students.
Is it possible that YOU are a snob? Take the test which ends the blog post and find out.
Are you a Victim of Fashion?
This video reports on an upcoming exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum called Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe.
Have you ever thought of shoes as a way of looking at international trade, gender or class? Why do we wear high heels? Sure, it's the fashion, but why is it the fashion? And why is it that high heels that used to be worn by men are now being worn by women? What's with that? Do you know someone with a shoe 'problem'? Why are so many women so nuts over shoes? Perhaps your group research project could help to answer this question.
The Dark Side of Consumption
One of the topics we'll cover during the course is consumption that leads to negative consequences. An area that is receiving a lot of attention from researchers is addiction to gambling.
This video was produced by the Responsible Gambling Council for Problem Gambling Prevention Week. Stopthechase.ca is a website that highlights one of the key signs of a gambling problem - chasing your losses. While the strategy of gambling more in order to win back your losses seems rational to the gambler, it appears foolhardy or even ridiculous to others, as the video highlights.
Are there other negative aspects of consumption that your group might research? Could you blog about topics such as impulsive or compulsive purchasing?
We'll talk more about this in class, but it doesn't hurt to start thinking about possible topics for your blog and your research project now. Remember to share ideas with the class through the cuLearn discussion group. You never know from where inspiration will strike!