Luxury consumption practices in the digital age: prosumers and lurkers on visual social media

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


With the transition to liquid modernity, and the acceleration of society due to the high production and consumption of new content through new media technologies such as social media, social hierarchies seem to be more fragmented, unstable, ephemeral and changing. The liquidification of society thus allows for new forms of status games and distinction that are not necessarily tied to family history or level of education. Indeed, this can be seen in the rise of a ‘new elite’, who, contrary to the old elite that was primarily defined by their economic capital, is defined by the acquisition of knowledge and culture. To address this gap, this thesis therefore looks at the luxury consumption practices of the specific segment of high-end luxury consumers (prosumers), as well as their admirers (lurkers) to see how these are affected by the mediatization of these practices on visual social media. Specifically, it looks at how these define, display and consume luxury on the visual social media platform called Instagram. This thesis by articles has a threefold contribution to the literature: (1) to expand theoretical understanding of new conspicuous consumption strategies of upperclass (or elite) consumers in asserting their social status and distinction online, (2) to better understand the dematerialization of luxury and stressing how consumption experiences, rather than the ownership of products, are thus considered to be status symbols, (3) to highlight the contribution to growing literature on morality in luxury consumption, showing that old elite individuals pursue both distinction-seeking, and at the same time authenticity-seeking when portraying themselves publicly.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish

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