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The history of conspicuous consumption in the United Kingdom: 1945-2000

Georgios Patsiaouras (School of Business, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 20 November 2017




This study aims to provide a historical understanding of conspicuous consumption phenomena in the context of the UK, between 1945 and 2000. It considers how status-driven consumption has been shaped by economic, technological and cultural factors.


Adopting a periodization scheme, concerning two time structures between 1945 and 2000, this paper is based on research stemming from a wide range of data such as academic studies, research articles, narrative history books, past advertisements, novels and biographies. Rich interdisciplinary data from the realms of political economy, sociology, cultural geography and consumption studies have been synthesized so as to provide a marketing-oriented historical outlook on conspicuous consumption phenomena.


Status-driven consumption in the UK has been heavily influenced by economic policies, cultural changes and public perceptions towards wealth during the second half of the twentieth century. Post-war rationing, youth-driven fashion, free-market economics and technological advances have played a crucial role in forming consumers’ tastes and engagement with ostentatious economic display.


Although the vast majority of marketing studies have approached luxury consumption through a psychological angle, this examination identifies the capacity of historical research to uncover and highlight the interrelationships between socio-economic factors and status-motivated consumption.



Patsiaouras, G. (2017), "The history of conspicuous consumption in the United Kingdom: 1945-2000", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 488-510.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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