Conspicuous watches

Posted: 6 November 2015 in Uncategorized
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Speaking of capitalism and time, I happened to be teaching Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class this week, just when the Wall Street Journal published a story about “status watches.”

The status watch. Among those who know the handshake, it can telegraph success and taste (or lack of same). Some may argue that with a clock on every smartphone and mini computers on many wrists, no one needs a mechanical watch. But needs are different from wants. A man’s desire for an expensive mechanical watch isn’t about logic; it’s about emotion.

Actually, the status watch, like all forms of conspicuous consumption, is about logic and emotion—both of them bound up, as Veblen understood it, in a system of invidious distinction and pecuniary emulation. It is, ultimately, therefore, a symbol of the latest stage of predatory behavior.

  1. […] Last week, in our discussion of The Theory of the Leisure Class, we decided to add “conspicuous philanthropy” to Thorstein […]

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