Chapter 5: The anthropology of popular culture and identity formation
Although the social psychology analysis of status markets provides several important insights, we can still enhance our understanding by examining their relation to aspects of our everyday life. This constitutes essentially an anthropological inquiry of positional concerns. More precisely, the objective of this study is to uncover the human aspects of everyday routines, which interface with status markets. The post-modern life today is in many ways radically different to what the industrial experience was in the past. People today experience their lives amidst greater expectations and enjoy more entertainment, free expression and aesthetic fascination through media and popular culture. A key anthropological question that must be addressed is how our individual feelings that appear in the context of post-modern life interface with the development of status markets. Another economic anthropology issue is how particular forms of social phenomena, which relate to consumer society, popular culture and media reality, facilitate the exposure to superstars and celebrities and trigger relative social competition. These manifestations may include brand projection, excessive sexual promiscuity, aesthetization and fashion novelty. In our post-modern world, symbols and myths play an active role in the process of shaping preferences and in individual decision-making. From an anthropological viewpoint, it is important to explore how myths and symbols, which surface in status markets, link with human aspects of everyday life, such as experiences, hopes and emotions.
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