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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Sophie Woersdorfer, 2008. "From Status-Seeking Consumption to Social Norms. An Application to the Consumption of Cleanliness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2008-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2008-10
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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