Signaling Entitlement: the Behavioral Ecology of Conspicuous Consumption

Author(s): James Boone

Year: 2015


Everyone agrees that conspicuous consumption is some kind of social display, but what kind of display is it? I argue that conspicuous consumption is (or is like) a territorial display in social space, wherein social space is defined as a kind of virtual territory in which resources produced by collective action with a social group are allocated and defended. There is general agreement that conspicuous consumption involves the expenditure of surplus production, but there is continuing debate over the precise functional context of surplus production: is it optional (as in a community ritual fund) or is it a critical part of a long term survival strategy? This presentation will attempt to clarify two critical issues associated with conspicuous consumption: 1) the role of surplus and its disposition in middle-range communities and 2) the role of prestige (rather than dominance) hierarchies in the allocation of resources produced collaboratively by such communities.

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Cite this Record

Signaling Entitlement: the Behavioral Ecology of Conspicuous Consumption. James Boone. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396926)


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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;