Dissertation Abstracts

Conspicuous Consumption and it's Pattern Analysis: A Case of goods and services of women's body management in Mashhad, Iran

Author: Neda Razavizadeh, n.razavi@gmail.com
Department: Social Science
University: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM), Iran
Supervisor: Dr. Ali Yousofi
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Persian

Keywords: Conspicuous Consumption , Consummerism , body management , distinction
Areas of Research: Women in Society , Body in the Social Sciences


Nowadays, consumption is one of the most important areas of life and economic and social activities in societies. In modern societies, the transformation of the nature of goods and services from biological and functional to symbolic led sociologist, especially economic sociologist, to notice consumption more than ever. In addition, body is an arena of symbolic functions in the modern world. However, on the one hand, empirical research on conspicuous consumption of goods and services of body management is usually confined to marketing departments. On the other hand, it is an underresearched area in the empirical sociology. As a result, from a sociological point of view to consumption and body, this dissertation explores the sociological reasons and patterns of conspicuous consumption of the goods and services related to women's body management in Mashhad, Iran. To this end, three aims were addressed: (1) identifying the reasons of conspicuous consumption of the body management goods and services, (2) identifying the patterns of conspicuous consumption of the body management goods and services, and (3) identifying the dominant patter of conspicuous consumption of the body management goods and services and its corresponding social status. Using qualitative approach, in-depth interviews was administrated for data collection. 38 women were interviewed until theoretical saturation was reached. Data analysis was carried out using the grounded theory coding approach. Finally, the emerged concepts were demonstrated on a diagram. Based on the model, the causal conditions of conspicuous consumption included identity representation, prestige seeking, distinction seeking, and psychological needs. The contextual conditions included lifestyle and accessibility of resources. The intervening conditions included conditioning show opportunities and social control. Actions and interactions included assessment of economic value, conditional modesty-ostentation, perfectionism in consumption as a moral virtue, targeted competitiveness based on personal merits, and mutual manipulation of emotions. The consequences of those actions and interactions are intentional/unintentional perceptions, unstable interaction experiences, normative confirmation/rejection, and conflict experience. Finally, the central phenomenon was presented as "the conditional and simultaneous play of distinction-seeking and conformity". Considering the second aim of the research, a typology of conspicuous consumers was developed: mobility-seeking competitor, distinction-seeking quality-desiring, pleasure-seeking comfort-desiring. Concerning the third aim of the research, the dominant type was identified as the mobility-seeking competitor.