Status and Sustainable Consumption in Lifestyles: From Conspicuous to Conscious

By Rachel Wolfgramm and Denise M. Conroy.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There exists a significant body of theory that establishes status consumption as an important field of inquiry. Within the status literature, it is well documented that displays of wealth, power, prestige and position in socially contrived status-hierarchies plays a role in conspicuous consumption. However, there remains a limited amount of empirical research that adequately examines how shifts in social values driven by sustainability imperatives are influencing new forms of status consumption. This article charts progress on a new research programme. The research is driven by a series of key questions including: how are sustainability imperatives changing the way we consume; are shifts in social values towards sustainability challenging and changing socially contrived status hierarchies?; and are new status related behaviors emerging that reflect shifts towards new patterns of conscious consumption? Given the lines of inquiry, we also investigate narratives and new mythologies emerging in status symbols (conceived of, meaning making) and status artefacts (human artforms) for and in business and society as a result of sustainability imperatives. Our research programme engages a multimodal approach and utilises both qualitative, and quantitative methods. The focus of the research inquiry is new trends in lifestyle consumption. Our data universe includes weddings, sports, corporate and tourism lifestyle choices and events given they incorporate major levels of consumption, displays of ritual, ceremony, symbolism and status. A focus on lifestyle events and choices enables the capture of both macro and micro data and ensures the international reach and relevance of the results. Macro data capture is gained primarily through strategic decision makers in events management businesses and micro data through a national survey. In this article, we present an overview of the research programme, outlining its distinctive contribution to the field of Sustainable Consumption.

Keywords: Status Consumption, Lifestyle Choices, Lifestyle Events, Sustainable Consumption

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.301-312. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 767.570KB).

Dr. Rachel Wolfgramm

Senior Lecturer, Management and International Business, The University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand

Dr. Denise M. Conroy

Senior Lecturer, Marketing, The University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand


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