Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit by Associate Professor of Sociology Ashley Mears is the study of conspicuous consumption among the new global leisure class. It follows the global party circuit to map out the empirical basis of Veblen’s seminal concept and the micro and organizational dynamics that normalize ostentation in the context of extreme wealth concentration. Building upon now classical economic anthropologies of the potlatch and feminist analyses of the traffic in women, the book shows how conspicuous leisure is built upon a gendered economy of labor in which women’s bodies are assessed against men’s money. While critiquing the structures that uphold economic and gender inequality, the book outlines women’s agency and the seductions of inclusion in the exclusive world of elite consumption.
Ashley spoke to BU Today about her new book.