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Beliefs have become the new status symbol. You don’t have to act on those beliefs in order to display your high social status. You just have to signal your acceptance of those beliefs.
So observes Rob Henderson in ‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans.
Americans - Status - Luxury - Goods - Today
In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.
People care a lot about social status. In fact, research indicates that respect and admiration from our peers are even more important than money for our sense of well-being.
Pressure - Status - Ways - Clothing - Changes
We feel pressure to display our status in new ways. This is why fashionable clothing always changes. But as trendy clothes and other products become more accessible and affordable, there is increasingly less status attached to luxury goods.
The upper classes have found a clever solution to this problem: luxury beliefs. These are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.
Henderson–who - Class - Air - Force - Student
Henderson–who grew up in the white working class, served in the Air Force, and now is a Ph.D. student at Cambridge–gives some telling examples. He says one of the “luxury beliefs” is that traditional family structures are obsolete. And yet, ironically, most affluent Americans, as part of their secure and happy lifestyle, live in traditional family structures! The lower classes, though, where those beliefs are put into practice, are being ravaged by the lack of marriage, single parenthood, divorce, promiscuity, and all of the social and psychological dysfunctions that come from not having traditional families.
If, as Henderson says, the upper class holds to beliefs without acting on them, I would add that the lower class often acts on those beliefs without holding them. The very people who lack traditional families are are often big...
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