Saturday, 2 November 2013

Why Ask Why Do Poor People 'Waste' Money On Luxury Goods?

A very good question
From Facebook, I came upon this controversial headline, Why Do Poor People 'Waste' Money On Luxury Goods? It is in my view one of the best-written commentaries on the sociology of hedonism and consumption.
I will not attempt to rewrite the article here, I suggest you click on the link and read; however, there some interesting points that the person raised that are good for discourse.
Respecting others in how we present ourselves
The issue of balancing means with acquisition in pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses or putting up a fa├žade is something I have opined about that I think plagues one of the cultures of my ancestry.
Besides, a very robust exchange on Twitter about appearance and respect went along the lines of a lady taking offence at being approached by a man in sagging trousers.
I could understand what she meant, I opined about how appearance is a function of comportment, and the way people might react to us.
Presentable is not exactly acceptable
In this, I see the conflict or the confusion between presentable and acceptable. The article takes a stab at it with this, “Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege.”
In contrast, ‘acceptable’ is about gaining access to a limited set of rewards granted upon group membership. I cannot know exactly how often my presentation of acceptable has helped me but I have enough feedback to know it is not inconsequential.”
I have found that there are elements of presentable that ease the way for being acceptable, but one should know the difference between sophisticated and ostentatious, just as the subtlety of understated compares to the vulgar to the Englishman in me.
I believe these matters of presentable and acceptable reach beyond goods and things to personality, the names we bear or the ones we dare to give our children, the way we engage friends and strangers, and it is a function of comportment.
Keeping up with the Joneses
However, we return to the question that highlights another aspect of character, the earn-and-spend culture that means we have nothing in store for the future and exemplified in the immediate gratification of acquiring for status instead of status being the determinant of acquisition.
None of which is entirely healthy regardless of status, if the need to have is to satisfy a vacuous want to be seen having something to be able to belong or show-off.
Yet, there is a market for this type of person because the virtue of contentment and the wisdom that informs better choices for deciding what is presentable and hopefully acceptable is different from what drives the acquisition of things.
What our presentable should do
What we do in striving for the presentable is to allow the gatekeepers open the doors to where we can be acceptable, it requires we either know the defaults of presentable or acquire the Shibboleth of acceptable.
This is quite different from self-aggrandisement, the luxury good from underwear through designer wear, accessories and expensive toys in the quest to belong. Thereby presenting a public face of plenty underpinned by a private penury.
Penny-wise, pound-foolish
We all have our stories, but I tried to sum it up in this tweet that I posted earlier, “The context of presentable and acceptable in terms of the decisions we make and how we spend can be the difference between foolish and wise.”
Back to the article, if you have not yet read it, Why Do Poor People 'Waste' Money On Luxury Goods? – A very good question with a long backstory.


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