Journal of Economics

, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 207–211 | Cite as

Koutsobinas, Theodore.: The political economy of status: Superstars, markets and culture change. 264pp. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, 2014. Hardback, \({\pounds }\)80.

  • Francesco SarracinoEmail author
Book Review

What does drive people’s need to consume? This is the question at the origin of Koutsobinas’s book. Over time various theories have been proposed to answer this question. The “treadmill” hypothesis, for instance, explains consumption in terms of adaptation: people adjust their aspirations to their previous consumption levels; they then become dissatisfied with what they have, and they feel the need to consume more and newer goods (Brickman and Campbell 1971). A similar mechanism is supposed to operate when people compare their achievements with those of others. These “others” represent a benchmark for the average consumers, a reference group of people whom they want to resemble. In this mechanism, known as “social comparisons” (Festinger 1954), or more colloquially as “keeping up with the Joneses”, people pursue higher levels of consumption just to keep up with their reference group (Frank 1997). Alternatively, people’s consumption decisions may be driven by the need to differentiate...


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.STATEC ResearchLuxembourg CityLuxembourg

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