Status Symbol

What’s a Status Symbol?

A status symbol is usually a thing that represents its owners’ high social and financial standing.


  • A status symbol is usually an object intended to signify its owners’ high social and financial standing.
  • What functions as status symbols frequently changes as a civilization and its values change.
  • One’s vocation also may dictate various status symbols, and certain kinds of uniforms may read as status symbols.

Recognizing a Status Symbol

Objects that behave as status symbols change over time but are nearly always connected to the key differences between the upper and lower classes within society.

In capitalistic societies, status symbols are most frequently tied to financial wealth. Elsewhere, status symbols can take on various forms. By way of instance, in areas where warriors are admired, a physical scar may represent courage or honor, and therefore turned into a status symbol.

Kinds of Status Symbols

Expensive Things

Expensive goods like luxury vehicles and watches which may cost over a downpayment on a house are largely out of reach for lower economic classes. Because of this, they’ve become status symbols.

Because a lot of the usefulness derived from standing symbols stems from their high price, if the price of a status symbol goes up it might actually increase its requirement, rather than decrease it. A product which exhibits this phenomenon is referred to as a Veblen great .


Another sort of status symbol is a uniform which symbolizes membership in a company, like the military or law enforcement. A uniform may also exhibit additional insignia of rank, specialty, tenure, and other particulars of the operator’s status within the company. A condition might confer decorations, medals, or ribbons that may demonstrate that the wearer has epic or official status.

In most cultures around the world, dress codes can specify who need to wear particular sorts of fashions of clothes, and when and where particular items of clothing are displayed. A contemporary example of this is in the professional world, where particular brands of ties, suits, or sneakers confer status on the wearer.

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Status Symbols Change Based on Cultural Values

Culture and society are fickle and the true products that become status symbols change continuously according to preference, popularity, branding, psychology, and a host of other things. Things that have become status symbols range from clothing and jewelry to recreational vehicles and the number of homes one owns. Many have theorized that the oldest foods to be domesticated were luxury feast meals, used to establish one’s place in society as a wealthy person.

Status symbols may also change according to your vocation or avocation. By way of instance, one of intellectuals, an ivy league education together with the ability to think intelligently is an important status symbol whatever someone’s material possessions. In academic circles, a lengthy list of books and a securely tenured position at a prestigious university or research institute are marks of high standing.

Gilded Ages Spawn Various Status Symbols

Mark Twain dubbed the decades following the Civil War that the”Gilded Age.” It was a period dominated by political scandal and the”Robber Barons,” the growth of railroads, the economization of petroleum and power, and the growth of America’s first giant–national and even international–corporations.

Throughout the first Gilded Age, sociologist Thorstein Veblen coined the expression”conspicuous consumption.” He was referring to wealthy people flaunting their wealth through wasteful spending. Why buy a $1,000 suit when a $100 lawsuit serves the identical function? The response, Veblen said, was electricity. The wealthy asserted their dominance by revealing how much money they could burn things they did not need. While radical at the time, Veblen’s observation seems obvious today.

Numerous “Gilded Ages”

In the intervening years, conspicuous consumption became deeply embedded in the texture of American capitalism, and it appears that every decade has identified a new host of status symbols.

The 1980s and 1990s

America’s latest Gilded Age of the 1980s and the majority of the 1990s, was all about flaunting surplus, as echoed in the film Wall Street and television series like Dallas and Dynasty. Back then one was perceived to be wealthy with an income of about $100,000 however, by 1989, American millionaires had become rather common.

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The “Power Scarf”

As more women entered American business and finance, their accessories and clothes became status symbols. In the 1980s and’90s, the sea of guys on Wall Street was dotted occasionally with women sporting their own power suits, but with this omnipresent flash of colour –the silk square of the designer”power scarf,” which at the time conducted for about $200 apiece.

Your Fitness As a Status Symbol

Acquiring insanely expensive commodities is not the only way that contemporary elites project power. More recently, another kind of the status symbol has surfaced. In today’s Gilded Age, identifying oneself as a member of the upper class does not just need conspicuous consumption. It requires conspicuous production.

If conspicuous consumption includes the worship of luxury, conspicuous production includes the worship of work. It is not about how much you spend. It’s about how hard you work–which includes, by the way, how hard you workout at the fitness center.

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