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The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class Hardcover – May 23, 2017
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"There is a lot to learn here about the contemporary face of income inequality."--Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
"The Sum of Small Things crackles with original insights about consumer goods and the individuals who choose them. Currid-Halkett's concepts of 'the aspirational class' and 'conspicuous production' advance consumption studies and provide fresh news about the search for distinction. Fast-paced, well-told, and unfailingly interesting, this book is an intellectual treat across the board."--Harvey Molotch, author of Against Security
"What are the status consumption habits of the twenty-first century? In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett blends social science and keen observation to present the new, best guide to this topic of never-ending interest, for the status-conscious in all of us."--Tyler Cowen, author of The Complacent Class
"'Organic', 'artisanal', 'boutique'--these are the catchwords of what has become, in Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's view, a new self-regarding social class, grounded less in money than in elite education, and inured to the problems of those less fortunate. This is a timely, original, and disquieting analysis of contemporary American society."--Richard A. Easterlin, University of Southern California
"Exploring how the consumer choices of today's 'aspirational class' express identity and values yet reinforce social exclusivity and economic status, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's lively book offers a thoroughly researched and fair-minded update to Veblen's classic look at the leisure class. Eschewing mockery and polemics, The Sum of Small Things challenges readers to think hard about culture and consumption in a postscarcity economy."--Virginia Postrel, author of The Power of Glamour
"Just as Thorstein Veblen captured his time with the phrase 'conspicuous consumption,' Elizabeth Currid-Halkett nails the contemporary rise of a subtler but no less materialist inconspicuous consumption. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand modern cities or culture today."--Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
"This book takes readers on a tour of contemporary U.S. inequality--in particular the classes who occupy its highest strata--via characteristic patterns of consumption behavior. Revealing polarizing patterns of class behavior, this engaging and thought-provoking work will attract a substantial readership and generate discussion."--Leonard Nevarez, author of Pursuing Quality of Life
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Top Customer Reviews
I work in politics so I could not help but extrapolate her theories into the recent election in the United States. As much as I pretended to be familiar with “real America” – I’ve traveled the country, put on rallies in small town America, and have a genuine respect for working class Americans and want them to have the same opportunities to succeed that I was afforded – I, like so many other urbanites, woke up on November 9 to a world I didn’t really know existed the day before.
It is fascinating and deeply troubling to come to grips with the reality that Currid-Halkett portrays (and backs up with extensive data) that it is not just the rich who are greedily consuming most of our resources and opportunities. We all think we are living educated, responsible non-greedy lives – and in most ways we are – but it is also apparent that we need to wake up to the inequity baked into our society that most of pretend we are not contributing to. Anyone who is curious to get a deeper understanding about the economics that allowed the educated “elite” to not see Donald Trump coming should read this.