Emulation and “Taste Cultures”

I picked up a book from the library today, Not Buying It: My Year without Spending by Judith Levine.  I think that pretty much explains the premise.

Anyway, in my reading this afternoon, I was struck by how differently we choose to spend our money: the author compares herself dropping money into the hat at a library reading to neighbors who buy snowmobiles and guns. In her eyes, the way she spends her money is superior…because she thinks her likes are superior.

That’s probably not earth-shattering, but I had never approached it quite like that, and then she explains further that we spend the way we spend to emulate those who care about what we care about.  A child wants a certain lunchbox because everyone else has it; I want to have a garden, can my own food, etc. because people (specifically bloggers) who I admire do the same.  We emulate what we see in others in hopes of getting what we think they have.

I like the way she puts it here:

“I’m not keeping up with the Joneses who drive the big trucks, but the Joneses who grow organic carrots and drive beaters like ours…In our little sub-culture, not consuming gives Paul and me cachet.  Soon our Joneses may be keeping up, or down, with us” (35).

I think she states it more eloquently than I have, so I’m sorry if I have been confusing.

In the end, it brings me to the interesting question: just who are my Joneses?

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One response to “Emulation and “Taste Cultures”

  1. Kirsty June 7, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Hi there, I saw your link on the sugar pie farmhouse and was glad to see another reading mum in the blogosphere! I noticed you haven’t posted for a while but I thought I’d drop you a note and see what you’ve been reading lately. I’ve enjoyed your reviews.
    Kirsty

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