Social Distinction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


What and how people consume are critical components of how individuals define themselves in relation to others. Yet, consumption practices are also meaningful social signals that individuals use to categorize and evaluate others. As such, consumption is not only a basis but also a marker of social identity that can serve as a powerful source of social differentiation and stratification in interaction. Research on social distinction focuses on analyzing two primary issues: (1) how individuals define and interpret the social, cultural, and/or material value of individuals, objects, and organizations; and (2) how such classification schemes—including those based on consumption—contribute to broader systems of social inequality.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Consumer Culture
EditorsDale Southerton
Place of PublicationThousand Oaks, CA
PublisherSage Publications, Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781412994248
ISBN (Print)9780872896017
StatePublished - 2011


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