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From Status-Seeking Consumption to Social Norms. An Application to the Consumption of Cleanliness

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  • Julia Sophie Woersdorfer

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    Abstract

    Interdependencies in consumer behavior stem from either status-seeking consumption or compliance with social norms. This paper analyzes how a consumption act changes from a means to signal the consumer’s status to a means of norm compliance. It is shown that such a transformation can only be understood when consumer motivations other than social recognition are taken into account. We depict norm emergence as a learning process based on changing associations between a specific consumption act and widely shared, non-subjectivist consumer needs. Our conjectures are illustrated by means of a case study: the emergence of the cleanliness norm in the 19th century.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2008-10.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2008-10

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    Keywords: social norms; status seeking; externalities; consumer needs; consumer learning; cleanliness Length 32 pages;

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