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Conspicuous consumption is a phrase popularized by the American sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen. It refers generally to the public display of economic purchasing power to acquire and consume luxury goods, as a means to display the consumer's membership in a superior social class. Other forms of conspicuous consumption include invidious consumption, meant to provoke the envy of other people; and conspicuous compassion, the ostentatious display of charitable donations, often in exchange for public monuments and buildings bearing the donor's name, in an attempt to enhance the prestige of the owner. The theory of conspicuous consumption was developed by Veblen in his well known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).
- Veblen, Thorstein, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899)