Humanistic luxury: The illusionary vehicle for change-making | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2635-1609
  • E-ISSN: 2635-1617

Abstract

The financial crisis of 2008 had pushed for the internalization of luxury and promoted a new wave of brands pioneering intrinsic values over opulent goods and services. Sitting in the peculiar intersection of humanism and luxury, humanistic luxury is a novel subcategory of ethical consumerism, one that combines social development and materially derived prestige. With a promise to preserve dying arts and crafts and uplift impoverished but deserving artisans, a new form of inconspicuous prestige consumption was born. This novel badge of honour, however, also introduced unprecedented considerations to the global social fabric. Humanistic luxury, an oxymoron that is too often overlooked, may help eliminate artisan vulnerability, but it also cements social hierarchies confirming who is ‘worthy’ and who is not, ultimately hindering social mobility on both local and global levels. Based on fourteen deep interviews conducted with humanistic luxury consumers across eleven countries, this article is tracing the origins of this new segment, exploring the social dynamics that set it in motion, outlining its social impacts and guiding academics to further research and industry professionals to a critical understanding of development and commerce. Humanistic luxury, as the findings of the research demonstrate, is a synthesis that arises from two oppositional ideas and serves as a reconciliation between haves and have-nots, ultimately providing a compromise between social sensitivity and vanity-driven status-seeking, affixing the same social hierarchy and related beliefs they already possess. While this symbolic segment yields consumers with the agency to improve the life of vulnerable populations, it ultimately fails to deliver on its promise of creating an egalitarian society, as it exclusively works with the ‘distant other’, maintaining local and global social order and the access to resources, as we know it.

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2022-10-01
2024-05-26
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