Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

Why we are willing to pay for mega expensive things

by 

Director, Centre for Employee and Consumer Wellbeing; Senior lecturer, Deakin Business School- The Conversation Australia

“It may not seem logical or good value for money, but there are plenty of us that will fork out for expensive presents this Christmas. Maybe it will be close to A$3,000 for premium seats to see Wagner’s Ring Cycle? Or maybe you prefer to spend thousands on fancy white goods like retro inspired coffee machines or fridges?

… In one study, the researchers found that people who watched more television assumed higher estimates of the average level of wealth and affluence in the US. This also led them to believe they were missing out on the tennis courts, private planes and swimming pools they saw represented in the media.

But even for those on low incomes, products are more significant than their simple utilitarian capacity. We buy goods to enhance our lives, to fit in, but also to remind ourselves that we are just a little better than most of our group.”

Full text: Why we are willing to pay for mega expensive things

Interesting article. Ultimately I think we can reduce everything we do to two primordial categories, survival and feeling loved. The two obviously being connected. Love → Safety → Survival. The article also makes an amusing point on single women and (designer) handbags. If you think about it, patriarchy is simply the rationalization of these very basic notions (with the added element of aristocracy, which obviously bastardises the genuine survival of the fittest.)

Advertisements

31 comments on “Why we are willing to pay for mega expensive things

  1. Steve Ruis
    December 29, 2016

    You are onto something. When I look at fashion and architecture magazines, the ads and articles contain only very high-end stuff, things I will never be able to afford. I need advice on how to build an outfit from eBay finds and how to shop for clothes furnishings at a thrift shop. Never see those kinds of articles.

    If all I knew about the US was gotten from such sources, I would expect us to all to be living like the Trumps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been interested in this since I saw a number a few years ago that I found incredibly surprising. Only 5% of French people make more than 4300 euros p/month. And yet the wealth tax debate (on earnings over 1 million) was spoken of and treated as an “everyman” issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        December 29, 2016

        We have a similar, irrational debate over negative gearing. Those who want to restrict it say that only a tiny percent of rich people /benefit/ from negative gearing so it should go. Those who want it to stay, try to drum up this perception of hard-working middle class families who need negative gearing because they put their spare cash into a second property and shouldn’t be penalized. -rolls eyes-

        I’ve been middle class all my life and I can’t think of a single friend/family that can afford a /second/ mortgage for an investment property.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Isn’t it extraordinary how successful the psycho-social manipulation is? Consider this, in Spain 63.5% of the population are so-called Mileuristas. That’s people who make 1000 euros p/ month. Another 5% to 8% make even less. And even there there was an absurd debate on if people making over 250 thousand a year should pay wealth tax.

        Like

      • acflory
        December 30, 2016

        That’s the conversation in the media, but what of those Mileuristas themselves? Do they buy the bullshit or are they quietly seething with resentment?

        Like

    • Ruth
      December 29, 2016

      I’m surprised he hasn’t had Milania gilded in gold.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s still time 😀 I just keep hoping there’s a group of preservation people at the White House who’ll stop them from doing anything to the building’s current interiors.

        Like

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        Oooh, every president’s wife has seemingly redecorated. I can’t wait until they gold-plate the White House! smh…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth
    December 29, 2016

    I don’t really watch much tv. Not with adverts, anyway. We do binge on Netflix occasionally. I don’t subscribe to magazines either. I’ve never had, nor desired to have, designer…anything. I’m not cheap, I’m frugal. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • How about social pressure? In your family or social circle, is there a sort of “bar” of how people should live?

      Like

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        Not really. I don’t have a huge social circle and shopping isn’t really a social activity within that circle unless you count the two friends I have who like to go “yard-saling” or “junking” as we like to call it. They both think retail stores are hell on earth(and I agree). My little sister and I frequent thrift shops and get excited if we find something brand-name for 2 bucks, but only because we know someone else likely paid a hundred or more.

        In both my social and family circles no-one really looks at the labels on things to see what brand it is. For me brand nor price determine quality. I just don’t care about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s not limited to overt branding. This sort of hierarchy can be created by, for example, people who cook vs. people who buy ready-prepared foods 😉

        Like

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        Nope. My best girlfriend doesn’t cook and it’s a running joke(by her). She does know how but pretends not to to get out of it. I cook, but dammit, I like a ready-made pizza every now and then. Sue me.

        I’ve seen what you’re talking about, though. People get on fads with food just like everything else. The Paleo diet, the Mediterranean Diet, yada, yada, yada.

        While I don’t have any of that pressure now, ironically, the only time I did was when I was in church. I used to host dinner for a close-knit group of friends. Depending on what we were having I’d either lay the table with china or bring out the paper plates. One dinner we were having hamburgers and potato chips(that’s what the group wanted.) I pulled out the paper plates. I’d worked all day and only had a few minutes notice.

        One of the ladies said, “I don’t know how you do it.” At first I thought she meant work all day and then come home to throw a dinner party together on short notice. No. That’s not what she meant. When I started to say it was no big deal she said, “No, I don’t know how you can serve that on paper plates. I could never do that.”

        *shrug* She ate on paper plates. It tasted the same.

        I love to bring out the china. And I’ve got the sweetest little depression glass desert plates. I love a well laid table. Little did I know that makes some of the members of my family uncomfortable. They’re afraid they’ll break something. I just like to do it because it feels special. But I also like for everyone at anything I host to feel comfortable as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting. The thing is you’re only noticing the overt form of hierarchization, when someone tries to undermine your plates. The interesting thing is beneath most action is some form of (animal) message. Even when someone says “I don’t watch television”, there’s a message in that 😉

        Like

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        Of course, we’re trying to communicate. It’d be hard to communicate without sending messages.

        A person who says, “I don’t watch tv,” is sending a message but it might not be that they think watching tv is bad or wrong. It might just be that they don’t enjoy it. Even if the person hearing it then feels as though they should now aspire to “not waste time” watching tv. Maybe the non-tv watcher doesn’t do anything any more productive with that time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s why/how it’s a whole elaborate system. What we wear, how we speak, what we eat (or don’t eat), what we read- 1001 things all working towards affirming a very specific position in our groups and consequently the world.

        Like

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        I see, so not necessarily in anyone else’s mind except your own?

        In other words we read a whole lot of meaning into things that might not even be there.

        Like

      • Absolutely. Especially because messages are usually group specific. The fancy handbag here where we live would be completely overlooked by most people because this is farm territory. A useless signal. A big barn on the other hand would probably work 😀

        Like

    • merilee
      December 29, 2016

      I don’t even think I’m particularly frugal, but I just think that most so-called designer anything is tacky! I have especially never understood those HUGE designer handbags, or Louis Vuiton anything:-(

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ruth
        December 29, 2016

        Ugh! Me either! Those huge handbags look like suitcases. I only carry luggage if I’m going on a trip. I’d rather not carry a handbag at all. I have seen very few gold-gilded things that I thought were attractive.

        Like

      • But do you have an iPhone or a Mac?

        Like

  3. Arkenaten
    December 29, 2016

    Probably the most expensive things we own these days aside from the house and car I guess) are very likely a few pieces of the wife’s jewelry, my guitars and surprisingly, some of the koi!

    I am happy as long as things are comfortable and they (mechanical, electrical etc) work. Other than that … *shrug*, I am not fussed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of it counts. The style of house one chooses has historically been the ultimate in the social hierarchy game.

      Like

      • Arkenaten
        December 29, 2016

        Well, we have an old single-storey cottage built in 1924. that has undergone a few higgledy-piggledy additions.
        What that says I have no idea.
        Great views though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure we can find an explanation somewhere in there. How does your house rate in comparison to the houses you lived in and visited as a child? Similar or a completely different prospect ?

        Like

      • Arkenaten
        December 29, 2016

        The house is probably not in as good condition as one or two I lived in as a kid, and better than a couple of others.
        Layour and design, completely different. Every house I lived in as a kid was double storey.
        We bought the property mostly because of the stand size and its location.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Helen Devries
    December 29, 2016

    I suppose it depends on your milieu…in mine, using your leather school satchel for your business papers is tops, a ‘named’ handbag is not.
    One friend swanks it with a French railwayman’s satchel….

    I wonder if those mega sized handbags are for hiding the remains of the last sugar daddy while on the hunt for a new one.

    Red trousers for men seems to be another pointer: a nephew’s friend announced last year that he now feels secure enough in his ranking at work to buy himself red trousers to wear on his holidays.
    I am still boggling a little over this one. Will his peers, his boss, see his holiday snaps and approve his status? Will it impress other people who hire villas in Italy?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s fascinating to observe the value of particular things to particular groups. Brightly coloured trousers have always been a country house staple. In Spain a summer/beach house was a de rigueur marker for people going up the ladder. And this sort of categorization flows through all classes. In the working class Filipino community on the Costa del Sol the young men make their cars look like they’re race cars with add ons and purple neon lights…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Devries
        December 29, 2016

        The mark of social advancement here among ordinary people seems to be to buy branded food – and be sniffy about which brand.. Only ‘Sardimar’ tinned fish will do…

        Liked by 1 person

      • In France I’m sure you already know it’s the exhausting *Made in France*. Because even rocks or dirt that are Made in France are better quality than foreign rocks and dirt 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Devries
        December 30, 2016

        In the words of the great collaborator..Ah yes, I remember it well…
        Choosing pale and nasty hothouse tomatoes from Nantes and ignoring the ripe and tasty ones from Morocco next to them….

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on December 29, 2016 by in thinking aloud and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: