Asst. Prof. Dr. Çağdaş Öğüç
(ARUCAD Head of New Media and Communication Department)
Conspicuous consumption is a form of consumption that encourages the purchased products to be seen by others. Purchasing a product for the purpose of showing class status and/or giving a social message are the phenomena in which conspicuous consumption processes emerge. In consideration with the fact that the individual shows off in order to increase his/her prestige in the society, we can observe that all the shopping that the individual does in order to raise his/her ego in the context of conspicuous consumption.
Veblen (1934: 71) considers consumption in terms of social factors, and describes it as the desire of consumers to obtain the product they purchase to show their social status, rather than benefiting from that product. According to Veblen, people say that buying the more expensive of the two cars that will serve the same purpose adds additional value to the individual. This additional value is the demonstration of social status and power of the individual to the other. From this point of view, while the purchased product fulfills its natural duty, it is also turned into a consumable item as a part of conspicuous consumption.
The products offered at the market take on a structure that is sought to be accessed and marketed to be displayed from the moment they are accessed. According to Veblen, the only way for the rich to consume in order to show off their wealth is waste. Man is a cultural being. Human beings grasp their self on relationships at an early age and shape their nature accordingly. Culture is shaped on economic conditions. Although it is an economic compulsion for an individual to revise his/her habits, the fact that it is a cultural product is an inevitable reality. Therefore, the living standards of the bourgeois class stand before us as a way of life that the lower classes would like to achieve. The capitalist system encourages all classes, including the poorest, to be involved in the consumption processes. Consumption processes, after meeting basic needs, the ability to purchase goods and products can constantly be observed. Unlimited purchase is the main principle, so that even more goods can be consumed at an unlimited rate. Every economic class strives to be in the next class. Even if they are not in that class, societies prefer to imitate the spending habits of the upper class in order to appear as if they are in that class.
What happens in the consumption processes is not based on emphasizing human needs, but on disposing of the produced product and obtaining maximum profit from that product. Need; It has a social content and function. However, conspicuous consumption is mostly determined by external forces (market forces, media, science and expertise, etc.) over which the individual has almost no control. For this reason, the need created out of nothing cannot go beyond being the need that arises for the existence of the system, rather than the individual’s own needs reproduced by the conditions of existence.