chapter  1
19 Pages

Pleasure and luxury in consumption

ByRobert Crocker

The pursuit of 'abundance', excess or luxury in the courts created a strong incentive to overspend and to become indebted, as Saint-Simon suggests. Indeed, in the distant luxury was restricted to kings and princes, and only later 'allowed' to descend to merchants and those socially 'below' the very wealthy. So luxury has always had a powerful and dynamic role in shaping consumption practices 'below it', provoking both the cupidity of the buyer who desires it more than anything else, and that of the seller, who wants to exploit this unquenchable 'need' or desire for her own profit. From the other side, the seller must entice the buyer, and present the object for sale as 'the best' in its category, as full of promise, and personally transformative – a veritable pot of gold at the end of the consumer's particular rainbow.