New Dynamics of Social Status and Distinction

Giana M. Eckhardt*, Fleura Bardhi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We explore emerging dynamics of social status and distinction in liquid consumption. The new logic of distinction is having the flexibility to embrace and adopt new identity positions, projects, and possibilities and the ability to attract attention. The importance of flexibility and attention as resources emerged from the social sciences literature in the domains of digital, access based, and urban consumption as being the most important for achieving distinction in the contemporary marketplace. We then conceptually reexamine conspicuous consumption and taste and show that status signaling now relies upon inconspicuousness, non-ownership including experiences, and authenticity based on knowledge and craftsmanship, all of which are difficult to emulate. Our contribution lies in integrating disparate literature on social status and consumption within one conceptual space. We also build upon the concept of liquid consumption by outlining exactly how liquidity affects status and distinction, an area which has not been explored to date.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)85-102
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Distinction
  • Flexibility
  • Inconspicuous consumption
  • Liquid consumption
  • Status
  • Veblen

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