Hot Best Seller

Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change

Availability: Ready to download

The book lays out how individuals in pursuit of status trigger the cultural mechanisms behind taste, identity, fashion, art, class, subcultures, retro/canon, and the current state of Internet culture. If Ametora was a specific case study of "how culture happens" and how trends form, this new book is a deep look into the universal principles of cultural change — all with sta The book lays out how individuals in pursuit of status trigger the cultural mechanisms behind taste, identity, fashion, art, class, subcultures, retro/canon, and the current state of Internet culture. If Ametora was a specific case study of "how culture happens" and how trends form, this new book is a deep look into the universal principles of cultural change — all with status as the motor.


Compare

The book lays out how individuals in pursuit of status trigger the cultural mechanisms behind taste, identity, fashion, art, class, subcultures, retro/canon, and the current state of Internet culture. If Ametora was a specific case study of "how culture happens" and how trends form, this new book is a deep look into the universal principles of cultural change — all with sta The book lays out how individuals in pursuit of status trigger the cultural mechanisms behind taste, identity, fashion, art, class, subcultures, retro/canon, and the current state of Internet culture. If Ametora was a specific case study of "how culture happens" and how trends form, this new book is a deep look into the universal principles of cultural change — all with status as the motor.

30 review for Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Tough to rate. In terms of thoughts and ideas, I'd rate it 4.5 stars--it really provided a terrific framework from which to view the primary animating forces driving our sociopolitical divisions. In terms of readability, it's more like 3-3.5 stars--it's capably written, but often circuitous with overlong, densely packed sentences. I often lost the thread trying to navigate passages. It's also repetitive at times. I'm glad I read this. It enhanced my range of lenses from which to view and underst Tough to rate. In terms of thoughts and ideas, I'd rate it 4.5 stars--it really provided a terrific framework from which to view the primary animating forces driving our sociopolitical divisions. In terms of readability, it's more like 3-3.5 stars--it's capably written, but often circuitous with overlong, densely packed sentences. I often lost the thread trying to navigate passages. It's also repetitive at times. I'm glad I read this. It enhanced my range of lenses from which to view and understand humans and society.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily Carlin

    Posting on Goodreads has negative status value but here I go anyway: I would have liked for this to cover 50% less material and for there to be no talk of "the Grand Mystery of Culture." Also sort of strikes me as a compendium of just-so stories. But at the same time ... I'm 100% on board. The most interesting section was the last one, where he talks about what the internet is doing to culture. He points to two forces that are making economic capital (as opposed to social/cultural/educational) m Posting on Goodreads has negative status value but here I go anyway: I would have liked for this to cover 50% less material and for there to be no talk of "the Grand Mystery of Culture." Also sort of strikes me as a compendium of just-so stories. But at the same time ... I'm 100% on board. The most interesting section was the last one, where he talks about what the internet is doing to culture. He points to two forces that are making economic capital (as opposed to social/cultural/educational) more important than ever. First, easy and rapid access to information (i.e. if everyone on TikTok can instantly know X thing is cool, it no longer has status value to know it). And also the predominant "omnivorism" of taste (i.e. frowned upon to make "low culture"/ "high culture" value judgments -- or really any judgment on what another person might find entertaining): Omnivorism also may have a dampening effect on the cultural ecosystem. If the “friction” of status struggles is an important creative force, omnivorism defuses tensions within the social groups most likely to create new conventions: namely, artists, the creative class, the media, and subcultures. Much great art and culture arose from righteous indignation toward bad taste, commercialist kitsch, and the conservative establishment. By eliminating these as legitimate targets for criticism we create much weaker, less meaningful conventions. Anyway, I don't think that this is a particularly useful set of ideas to keep front of mind in day-to-day, at least from a "living a peaceful and integrated life" standpoint. I don't really agree with this bit in the conclusion: All analysis of cultural trends should thus first work through an innovation’s status implications. In 2019 Vox identified mini Australian shepherds as the “dog of the moment,” attributing their popularity to “portable, apartment-friendly size and striking good looks.” Many dog breeds are handsome and small enough for apartment life; the article neglected to mention that mini Australian shepherds may also serve as status symbols. Just because no one who was interviewed for the article openly admitted their status seeking doesn’t mean we should take their alibis in good faith. I think this will land us in weird Spiderman pointing at Spiderman meme territory / twist us up into knots as we try to engage directly with status while also -- unavoidably, inevitably, perpetually -- pursuing it. Not to say status isn't a valuable lens..just not sure that it would do good things to someone's psyche to make it the primary one. Marx: "We have been cursed to understand the mechanisms of culture too well, making earnest taste nearly impossible." After reading this book I'm feeling very, "I have been cursed to understand the mechanisms of status too well, making earnest existence nearly impossible." Luckily I have a bad memory so I'm sure I'll be back to my unselfconscious pursuit of status in no time! 🥂

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Spiller

    This is five stars with two qualifiers, which are explained below. I enjoyed Marx's previous book, "Ametora," and if you did as well, then I anticipate that you will enjoy "Status and Culture". "Status and Culture" seeks to explain the various forces that shape what we call culture. Marx methodically provides a taxonomy of the various facets that influence culture, status being foremost. He then explores how differing forms of status can shape the evolution of culture: how certain things become This is five stars with two qualifiers, which are explained below. I enjoyed Marx's previous book, "Ametora," and if you did as well, then I anticipate that you will enjoy "Status and Culture". "Status and Culture" seeks to explain the various forces that shape what we call culture. Marx methodically provides a taxonomy of the various facets that influence culture, status being foremost. He then explores how differing forms of status can shape the evolution of culture: how certain things become classics, while other things vanish as mere fads. If you had asked me to explain the interplay of culture and status before reading this book, I would have been hard pressed to provide the cogent overview contained in "Status and Culture". From that standpoint, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a primer on what drives our cultural tastes. That said, this book contains one glaring blind spot. Marx observes that today the ubiquity of content on the internet has caused taste to be more egalitarian. For example, the rockist attitude that all forms of music are interpreted through a rock prism has been replaced by "poptimism," an attitude that all forms of music, are worthy of praise. While Marx acknowledges the existence of social media as a factor in flattening hierarchy, he ignores how tastes have been shaped and altered by the AI in social media platforms themselves. A smaller quibble. Early in the book, Marx describes an interview of Beck conducted by Thurston Moore on MTV's "120 Minutes" as an example of someone signaling their bona fides with a particular audience. Marx quotes Beck as saying that the first record he bought was "Haino or Xanadu," "Haino" supposedly referring to Keiji Haino, an experimental Japanese guitarist, and thus a signal to avant-garde noise weirdos that Beck is one of them. Actually, Beck was referring to Heino, a traditional German singer with distinctive white blonde hair and dark glasses who was held in ironic regard by hipsters who were probably Beck's core audience at the time. (Heino appears on the cover of a Beck single from that time period.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Weronika

    I pre-ordered this book inspired by a hyper-enthusiastic review by Michelle Goldberg of the NYT, whom I've aways considered a very insightful, super intelligent person. What did Marx do to her to have her write a praise for this sh*t? Kidnapped her cat? She owes him money? I haven't read a book so devoid of any new, original ideas for years and I regularly come across a lot of published mediocrity. Out of respect for Goldberg I read this until the end, hoping for I don't know what. What a waste I pre-ordered this book inspired by a hyper-enthusiastic review by Michelle Goldberg of the NYT, whom I've aways considered a very insightful, super intelligent person. What did Marx do to her to have her write a praise for this sh*t? Kidnapped her cat? She owes him money? I haven't read a book so devoid of any new, original ideas for years and I regularly come across a lot of published mediocrity. Out of respect for Goldberg I read this until the end, hoping for I don't know what. What a waste of time and money (and trees!).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    W. David Marx's Status and Culture arrived at just the right moment as I've recently developed an interest in mechanical watches and as I just watched the new Cate Blanchett film, Tar. Both of these media invite readers to consider to what extent beauty exists separately from status. Is a Rolex Explorer, for example, beautiful, or is it just a way of saying "I have money?" Maybe we just find people who can credibly make that declaration attractive, though that doesn't seem beautiful if true. It m W. David Marx's Status and Culture arrived at just the right moment as I've recently developed an interest in mechanical watches and as I just watched the new Cate Blanchett film, Tar. Both of these media invite readers to consider to what extent beauty exists separately from status. Is a Rolex Explorer, for example, beautiful, or is it just a way of saying "I have money?" Maybe we just find people who can credibly make that declaration attractive, though that doesn't seem beautiful if true. It might be useful to contrast the Explorer against Tudor's Ranger (google them and a comparison image will be your first hit). Almost every Tudor design is a version of a Rolex sold for a lower price, but they're nevertheless well made watches. Tudor has produced a variety of popular models, and many people especially love the Black Bay diver.* And yet, maybe every time a Tudor owner looks at their Ranger they think, however quietly, "it would be nice to have a more iconic model of this design." Or maybe those who own an Explorer are just rationalizing their status obsession. What a tangled web. We often say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but maybe it's also in the class of the owner/ beholder. W. David Marx invites readers to imagine two men, standing next to each other. Both of them are wearing leather shoes, trousers, a button down, and a jacket. The man on the right's clothes show signs of wear. Who is higher class? In this case, it might be the man on the right if he is rich and is using his expensive but worn clothing to signal that he was born into money and really couldn't care less about his rival upstart. The wealthy man looks at his Explorer and doesn't need to ask whether it's actually beautiful because he can afford it, a Daytona, and an entire line of Tudors if he so pleases. His rival's crisp new clothes, even if they're all the same brands, reveal him to be little more than an avaricious, try-hard yuppie. And if we take Maslow seriously, don't we see the richer man in this case as more "self actualized?" Again, I can't help feeling a tension between my respect for the try-hard and my envy of the man who was born without a care in the world. Is art ever beautiful in a way that is separate from these games, hierarchies and status signals? In Tar, there is a moment at the end of Mahler's Fifth Symphony that does seem beautiful, and in fact the main character says "beautiful" just after the audience has a moment to think "isn't this nice." Although we see Tar as a (view spoiler)[monster (hide spoiler)] , maybe she is right to believe (or claim to believe) in something transcendent and redeeming in art. Or, again, is this all our collective rationalization of an illusion? Regardless, I don't think the solution is to pretend like there's an escape from these games. Durkheim famously argued that people formed religions to organize into groups, and it seems that we do something with art and fashion. Our styles and interests bind us into groups of punks, office workers, blue collar workers, and internet fandoms. Almost every rebel style eventually seems to form its own hierarchical structures, and sometimes those norms are very awful. I'd still like to believe in concepts like beauty and authenticity, but perhaps they're easily discussed but actually very precious. Anyway, my command of the philosophy of beauty is pretty limited and remains open to revision, but that's one reason I enjoyed Status and Culture. I think it would read productively alongside Haidt's Righteous Mind and Robin Hanson's Elephant in the Brain. I'm sure I'll recommend it often. *(I dislike nearly every diver, excepting Longines' Legend divers, especially the green dial with a bronze bezel that is, sadly, only released in a size too big for me.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    TheManSG

    I been reading Marx since the days of Neojaponisme/Neomarxisme. For those long time readers, Marx is still the Gen-Xer that moans the loss of curator ship and people with taste propagating trends (its a 90's thing). He brings up Beck and gyaru again, lol. But, this being Marx, this is still an excellent book that TRIES to analyze Status and culture of mankind. If you don't mind the premium university philosophy English, then its weaves an analytical tale of the ages. Still if you are like me and I been reading Marx since the days of Neojaponisme/Neomarxisme. For those long time readers, Marx is still the Gen-Xer that moans the loss of curator ship and people with taste propagating trends (its a 90's thing). He brings up Beck and gyaru again, lol. But, this being Marx, this is still an excellent book that TRIES to analyze Status and culture of mankind. If you don't mind the premium university philosophy English, then its weaves an analytical tale of the ages. Still if you are like me and think about it, there are many head scratches. He is alluding (but never with total confidence) that humanity will have always high/low status. But how about times during existential crises like wars and such? How about cultures in other countries ? And he will use examples from predominant western sources on western consumption to illustrate his point. How about status and culture in Iran? Ukraine? Taiwan? Maybe it was too much in already ponderous book At least he acknowledges that Gen-z is a break from millennial in the capitalist consumption. If you are a smartypants/smartass then this is book is for you so you can show off to your friends that understand status and culture. Yes this book is a tool to become high status, all according to plan......

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rilka Li

    I read this through a tech-adjacent book club... it fits comfortably into the popular social science category in the way it reads: informal, snappy, fun pop culture anecdotes, tidy bullet points at the end of every chapter. For that reason I find it hard to take W. David Marx at his word about the critical stakes of this book: that it genuinely puts forth a grand unified theory of how our innate desire for high status drives cultural change. My impression (a loosely-held impression, to be sure, I read this through a tech-adjacent book club... it fits comfortably into the popular social science category in the way it reads: informal, snappy, fun pop culture anecdotes, tidy bullet points at the end of every chapter. For that reason I find it hard to take W. David Marx at his word about the critical stakes of this book: that it genuinely puts forth a grand unified theory of how our innate desire for high status drives cultural change. My impression (a loosely-held impression, to be sure, I mostly did not have my close reading glasses on) is that he makes few meaningfully falsifiable or disputable claims; he doesn't go far enough to shift any paradigms! But I think as an ambitiously-scoped survey of the field and as a provocation to view questions of taste, art, trends, etc. through the lens of status it is exciting and successful. It's dense with references to influential thinkers and ideas. And I loved the framing of artistic value as relating to being able to resolve open questions in art, which felt like a missing piece in my own understanding of the distinction between "enjoyable art" vs. "art that contributes to the discourse".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Boutté

    Surprisingly, this is by far one of my new favorite books on status. Learning about status is one of my favorite topics, but I was hesitant to read this book for a while because I assumed it was more about trends than the sociological aspect. W. David Marx did an incredible job balancing the two, which blew me away and made it one of my new favorites. In this book, you’ll learn about status as well as class struggles and how different trends separate the wealthy from the rest of us. You’ll also Surprisingly, this is by far one of my new favorite books on status. Learning about status is one of my favorite topics, but I was hesitant to read this book for a while because I assumed it was more about trends than the sociological aspect. W. David Marx did an incredible job balancing the two, which blew me away and made it one of my new favorites. In this book, you’ll learn about status as well as class struggles and how different trends separate the wealthy from the rest of us. You’ll also learn about the randomness of what gets trendy, and why it’s so strange that we put such an emphasis on following the tastemakers and what they do. I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re interested in this topic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan Cassino

    This is an engaging, pop culture savvy extrapolation of Veblen, Bourdieu and other sociological studies of status and social capital. The core insights- that trends are largely driven by the desire to imitate people with greater levels of social capital, and that those with high levels of social capital need to adopt alternate strategies in order to signal status- are nothing new, but they’re perfectly well integrated, and the use of examples from pop culture is likely to make them more engaging This is an engaging, pop culture savvy extrapolation of Veblen, Bourdieu and other sociological studies of status and social capital. The core insights- that trends are largely driven by the desire to imitate people with greater levels of social capital, and that those with high levels of social capital need to adopt alternate strategies in order to signal status- are nothing new, but they’re perfectly well integrated, and the use of examples from pop culture is likely to make them more engaging to lay readers. Is it some brilliant new synthesis? No, but it’s a perfectly acceptable repackaging of the sociology of consumption literature, designed to appeal to the sort of pop social science readers who have made Gladwell a star.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Martijn

    I would've given it 6 stars if I could. At the start of 2022, I read Ametora and loved it. However, while it was an interesting read and window into a specific culture, I wanted more from David. Which is exactly what he delivered here. I generally think that culture (and great design) is massively undervalued in day-t0-day life, but was never able to put into words, why this is and how it is that we do not appreciate (or understand) products from Apple, Music from Kendrick & Fashion from Thom Bro I would've given it 6 stars if I could. At the start of 2022, I read Ametora and loved it. However, while it was an interesting read and window into a specific culture, I wanted more from David. Which is exactly what he delivered here. I generally think that culture (and great design) is massively undervalued in day-t0-day life, but was never able to put into words, why this is and how it is that we do not appreciate (or understand) products from Apple, Music from Kendrick & Fashion from Thom Brown. This book gave me an incredible toolbox of cultural ideas by compartmentalizing all the thoughts I've had about the shifts in culture (& and how they are related to status) that have been happening, especially with the internet in the last couple of years. I love it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    All taken together, the fashion cycle from elite distinction to laggard passive adoption demonstrates exactly how individuals’ pursuit of status on a micro level leads to cultural change on a macro level. And as long as non-elites are able to imitate elite conventions, status seeking will always change the culture. Also see: https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art... All taken together, the fashion cycle from elite distinction to laggard passive adoption demonstrates exactly how individuals’ pursuit of status on a micro level leads to cultural change on a macro level. And as long as non-elites are able to imitate elite conventions, status seeking will always change the culture. Also see: https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Serra Abak

    I enjoyed the deep exploration of status and the idea that it affects and shapes every part of what we consider culture. I disagreed with some parts but enjoyed the perspective. However, it’s very long-winded and repetitive. I found my eyes glazing over as I reread the same point over and over again. Sometimes I lost track of what the point was supposed to be among the copious amount of examples. The book could have used better planning.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Denton

    Status and Culture is surprisingly thorough and thoughtful, and is one of those books where I kept finding myself taking notes on the chapters. The writing isn't anything special--it reads like someone was assigned a particularly long book report--but Marx did a good job pulling out especially interesting ideas and concepts from the others who have studied the space. Status and Culture is surprisingly thorough and thoughtful, and is one of those books where I kept finding myself taking notes on the chapters. The writing isn't anything special--it reads like someone was assigned a particularly long book report--but Marx did a good job pulling out especially interesting ideas and concepts from the others who have studied the space.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    Enjoyed listening to this as I thought that Marx made many interesting observations on society. Agree with Tyler Cowen that his statement at the beginning that this is the first comprehensive look at this topic feels a bit off base.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Penny Adrian

    If you are shallow and status obsessed, then this is the book for you. W. David Marx fails to question (or prove) the theory that all human beings crave status over others; that all human beings give or withhold respect for others based on their perceived status; and that one person's gain in status is automatically another person's loss. His basic premise is vile and goes completely unchallenged (or convincingly supported). Unlike baboons, human beings are capable of treating everyone with compass If you are shallow and status obsessed, then this is the book for you. W. David Marx fails to question (or prove) the theory that all human beings crave status over others; that all human beings give or withhold respect for others based on their perceived status; and that one person's gain in status is automatically another person's loss. His basic premise is vile and goes completely unchallenged (or convincingly supported). Unlike baboons, human beings are capable of treating everyone with compassion and respect, regardless of how "low status" they're supposed to be. Being of low status does NOT have to mean being any less valuable than any other human being. According to Marx, we humans can't help ourselves. We have no choice but to degrade those less fortunate than ourselves, and to worship those who are greedy and "high status" no matter how despicable they may be as people. W. David Marx should speak for himself when it comes to valuing people based on their "status". As human beings, we have an obligation to rise above the behavior of insects and apes, and to treat every human being with the respect and compassion we ourselves desire. We are more than capable of this, despite what status obsessed fools prefer to believe.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cutler

    DNF at 25%, but it's so tedious that I'm giving myself credit for having read it. DNF at 25%, but it's so tedious that I'm giving myself credit for having read it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Review forthcoming on Substack!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Kelly

    A bit of a slog for a premise that isn’t really that controversial. “Desire for social rank” is clearly a factor in humans’ adoption of cultural choices. So is education, geography, religion, marital status, sexual identity, and many other factors. It is a pretty glaring assumption to define something as broad and complex as culture solely in terms of status. The biggest challenge is the rapid fire introduction of concepts and terms without adequate exploration. In chapter one alone, Marx introdu A bit of a slog for a premise that isn’t really that controversial. “Desire for social rank” is clearly a factor in humans’ adoption of cultural choices. So is education, geography, religion, marital status, sexual identity, and many other factors. It is a pretty glaring assumption to define something as broad and complex as culture solely in terms of status. The biggest challenge is the rapid fire introduction of concepts and terms without adequate exploration. In chapter one alone, Marx introduces the definition of status, the rights and duties of status, benefits of higher status, macro and micro status position, the contextual nature of status, esteem as the backbone of status hierarchies, how to discern we are esteemed, deference, access to scarce resources, ALL IN THE FIRST TEN PAGES. Finally, there is nothing new here. Marx rehashes Rogers’ “Diffusion of Innovation,”, Maslow’s “Hierarchy of needs” and countless other theories as if a theory can prove a theory. Recommend you pass

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Adams

    Lackluster. Told well, but nothing really beyond surface level and/or rehashed ideas

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    I saw a review, I think in NYTimes, and had to read it. Very good. Entertaining and interesting. If you are into trends and pop culture this book is for you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Maher

    cool concepts and examples, but pretty dense

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    The book is well written and has quite a few eye-opening passages. That being said, as others have noted, it is repetitive at times to the point I began to lose interest towards the end of the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Kim

    The basic theses of this book seem plausible and I might give 4*. But also found myself just half-listening a lot, especially towards the end.

  24. 4 out of 5

    molly

    read this for my diss but enjoyed it so much im addin it to the goodreads - didn’t teach me anything new but was v well written n digestible !!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marco

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bolin Zhou

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tate

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mateo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Im Chillin

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.