Conspicuous Consumption/Production

3 Dec

According to Thorstein Veblen, conspicuous consumption is the consumption of luxury or high-end goods in order to show wealth, and serves to describe causality between economic power and social status.  The concept of conspicuous consumption is obviously applicable to the television world; the purchase of high end technology (HDTV, Blu-Ray, satellite cable) not only displays wealth but the ability to enjoy such technologies through leisure time. Spigel and Dawson claim that the conspicuous consumption perhaps turns into conspicuous production; media devices allow work and leisure to be constantly intertwined. Now, the wealthy, high status individual is the one that is always working on the expensive devices that facilitate this. The authors use this example to promote the importance of mobile devices and multi-tasking in the realm of television; “today’s mobile devices are aimed at the new lifestyle ideal of multi-tasking across a series of labour and leisure pursuits” (283). Multi-tasking is an integral part of the television-watching experience today.

A 2010 survey by Deloitte elaborates on the ability to multitask while watching TV: 42% of Americans surf the internet, 29% talk on phones, and 26% text or chat online. These are again, 2010 figure, so my best guess is that in these two years the figures have likely increased. Another survey by Yahoo mobile and Razorfish revealed that: “[1] 38% of respondents say browsing the web enhances their TV viewing experience, while another 38% say it makes them more distracted. [2] 70% of respondents multitask at least once a week; 49% do so daily. [3] 15% are on their phones for programs’ entire durations. [4] The top 5 programming genres attracting multitaskers are reality, news, comedy, sports and food. [5] 94% of reported multitaskers engage in some form of mobile communication while watching TV, such as exchanging email, sending IMs, texting, talking or social networking. [6] 60% browse the mobile web, of which 44% search for unrelated content and 38% search for related content. [7] Mobile traffic spikes during halftime shows of sporting events; Yahoo Sports saw a 305% increase during the last Super Bowl halftime show.”

                If I understand Spigel and Dawson’s logic correctly, the mobility of TV and ease of multi-tasking is made possible by the mobile devices that are a reflection on the busy, work-heavy lifestyle of the viewer, which in turn will show a higher social class. Spigel and Dawson kind of stop here; I’m not sure that the work-heavy lifestyles of mobile device users is translated into the television experience. Most examples of multitasking are for social purposes or further entertainment purposes, such as looking up elements of the show while watching it, rather than being able to switch between Buffy and stock reports like the authors suggest. If anything, multi-tasking is more a reflection on conspicuous consumption, the allowance of free time and the multitude of devices one has to multitask on. Perhaps I am drawing from the mindset of a student rather than a professional, but television is still very much mostly a leisurely and social activity, rather than one rooted in simultaneous labor. 

One Response to “Conspicuous Consumption/Production”

  1. systemy cms February 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    poinformował chrapliwym Reklamy Adwords szeptem. – A także dziewice jak mówią,
    nie systemy cms wiem, w jakim stopniu w
    tymże prawdziwości… Niewiele, pomyślał sir Roger, prowadzić gminna ogół wyolbrzymia.

    W własnej działalności nie spotkał w żadnym razie
    smoka, kto mając do powagi owce, połaszczyłby się na łykowate, zasuszone dziewice.
    – Do przedmioty – przynaglił
    Arnolda, jaki wymrukiwał u dołu nosem wszystko przekleństwa.
    – Powiadasz, że oficjalnie g.

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