The Political Economy of Status
In this timely book Theodore Koutsobinas explores the system of status markets and their social effects including inequality. He explains how media fascination with superstars and luxury consumption goods amplify positional concerns for all, distort the aspirations of the middle class and cause relative deprivation. Building on themes first identified by Veblen and Galbraith, Koutsobinas analyses extensively the behavioural evidence from modern interdisciplinary research and contributes constructively to a new genre of economic analysis. The Political Economy of Status compels us to consider seriously redistributive culture change policies targeted to assist the underprivileged. This book will be a valuable and lively reading resource for academics in various fields including economic theory, political economy, sociology, social psychology and cultural studies.
‘Professor Theodore Koutsobinas deftly explores the system of status markets and their social effects including inequality. . . analyses extensively the behavioral evidence from modern interdisciplinary research and contributes constructively to a new genre of economic analysis. Exceptionally well organized and presented. A solid work of seminal scholarship, The Political Economy of Status is a strongly recommended addition to professional, governmental, and academic library Economics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.’
The Midwest Book Review
‘This volume is innovative in terms of its subject matter, approach, theoretical development and policy prescription. It should be read by economists and policymakers who want to understand and address significant contemporary changes in society: the growing importance of status markets for goods and their relationship with superstar markets for labour. Theodore Koutsobinas employs a pluralist approach, drawing on psychology, anthropology, sociology and philosophy in order to develop a political economy theory of culture change with respect to status.’
University of Stirling, UK
Global inequality represents the challenge of our age. The Political Economy of Status demonstrates that rising inequality involves profound cultural, psychological, and philosophical changes because it is interlinked with the meteoric growth of superstar markets – that is, markets for positional goods, which now permeate most economies. Consequently, taking on inequality will require not just smart economic policies, but moral leadership.’
University of Leeds, UK
‘Consumption is a theme that many economists avoid and, after reading this important work by Koutsobinas, it should be clear why: it is a highly complex topic that can only be understood if insights from a number of different perspectives are seamlessly combined. Through a comprehensive examination of these perspectives, Koutsobinas achieves this in his book, offering a fundamental contribution to how the social sciences understand consumption.’
University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Personally, I enjoyed reading the book because it is a sign that “times they are changing”: topics such as social comparisons and positional goods have disappeared from the agenda of economists for years; it seems that they are coming back, and this is a good sign because—thanks to the new development of the economic discipline and its higher integration with other social sciences—we have the unprecedented opportunity to better understand people’s behaviour and the way modern societies are organized. I believe this book has the merit and the courage to bring this debate back, by updating and enriching it thanks to a pluralistic effort that embraces many disciplines.
Journal of Economics
Theodore Koutsobinas’ interdisciplinary approach seeks to build upon existing economic analyses of why particular sorts of consumption matter, in particular the cognitive and affective motivations underpinning patterns of consumption which are tied to ideals of status. . . it spans a range of disciplines and succeeds in its attempt to connect economics, cultural studies and political theory in examining how status operates and why we should care about its outcomes.
Political Studies Review