Chapter 1: Introduction: status, superstars and markets
One important aspect of modern life is that middle-class individuals participate in Veblenian consumption excesses for status goods and have become more willing to be involved in occupational markets, which are monetarily rewarding but risky. These markets are characterized by tournament dynamics, which exhibit greater failure rates and produce highly rewarded and visible professionals or superstars. Consumption excesses were in the past common only among members of the upper class but today they are evident in the behaviour of individuals from the middle class and even from the working class. Overconsumption does not result only in greater levels of aggregate demand but causes higher sales for highly priced goods and services. After all, today there is an abundance of expensive consumption goods and services to choose from. Expensive watches, summer vacations to Ibiza, Florida, the Caribbean islands and other exotic destinations, brand clothing such as Abercrombie and Fitch or Benetton, gourmet dinners at fancy restaurants are all examples of expensive goods and services, which contribute to a different lifestyle from the average main-street or neighbourhood outlet experience. Such indulgences have now become an indispensable part of life for many. In addition, it is evident that buying expensive cars or SUVs (sports utility vehicles), bigger or new houses in the suburbs and often a summer house or a holiday home are not just dreams for the distant future. Such considerable household expenses for durable goods are quite common for middle-class individuals and families today.