Status goods and Sustainability

Keith Hudson is an economist based in the UK. He writes a regular newsletter on the latest happenings in the world, mainly concentrating on economics. His ideas, breath of knowledge and unique view is fascinating.

His hypothesis for economic growth is the following:

In four sentences, the basis of my case is this:

1. After hunger and thirst, sex is the most powerful genetic instinct which drives human society and this, in normal circumstances, essentially depends on the choice of the female.

2. The sexual choice of a female almost always depends on the male’s putative status in the group. This is something we share with social mammals generally, more particularly with our primate cousins but taken to a high degree of finesse in our own species.

3. Although the status of the male in a group or community can depend on many qualities, it usually derives from competence in earning an income or maintaining inherited wealth and is most easily signified by the visible possession of property or goods.

4. The main drivers of economic growth are the demand for particular sorts of consumer goods which are scarce and expensive initially but are subsequently able to be mass produced at successively cheaper prices. In doing so, the status they initially accord to the upper classes is thereby able to be extended in stages all the way down through successive lower socio-economic strata through to the poorest workers.

The test of my hypothesis is that if the supply of such consumer goods falters, then economic growth will also falter. The so-called developed nation-states will have to re-adjust in radical ways if their populations are to survive.

There are more than a few signs that developed countries’ economies are now faltering. In order to survive in future years, we will have to revert to more self-sustaining forms of society in which status is intrinsically satisfied and in which production and trading systems do not depend on the incessant supply and consumption of status goods. Before discussing my main case I will briefly review the present situation in the developed nation-states. To read further please click on “Pamphlet in preparation” link below.

You can read the pamphlet here.  His hyphothesis and possible answers will have consequences for sustainability. If status satisfaction is not linked to production and trading of goods then material consumption, pollution, waste, energy will all decrease – alteast in the developed countries since a lot of the status goods are already available to most of the population.

The social aspect of status satisfaction may ultimately have the solution to sustainability.


One thought on “Status goods and Sustainability

  1. Pingback: The New Elites, Status Goods and the Steady State Economy « World is Green

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