Class Related Consumption and the Ability to Resist Commercial Temptations in the Age of Commercialism
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBerg L. Class Related Consumption and the Ability to Resist Commercial Temptations in the Age of Commercialism. Sage Open. 2019;9(2):1-11 https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2158244019856716
Abstract This article investigates vulnerabilities related to commercial pressure and asks whether the ability to resist commercial temptations is class related. Four hypotheses are developed and tested in a nationally representative web survey among 1,707 respondents living in Norway. We found no differences in the ability to resist temptations between working-class and middle-class people, but the analysis gave some support to the conspicuous consumption hypothesis: Consumers from the upper middle class, with high purchasing power, reported to be the least able—or willing—to resist commercial temptations. Lacking ability to resist commercial temptations is an important vulnerability driver. Members of the upper middle class can normally afford their conspicuous consumption and can hardly be characterized as vulnerable. Members of the working class, however, are more vulnerable as measured by the tendency to buy things one cannot afford, even though they are better prepared to resist commercial temptations. The reason working class people are more likely to buy things they cannot afford is best explained by unequal class related distributions of financial opportunities, rather than by class in itself. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that self-reported class affiliation is a relevant approach for the study of social inequalities.