Face to Face with Inequality

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The Lure of Stuff

A.O. Scott has an article about recent movies celebrating luxury goods, which offers an explanation of some of the behaviors we have seen in our research. Scott doesn’t offer any of the knee-jerk judgments about materialism that we are all prone to, at the same time that we feel the lure of beautiful things. Holding back the judgment is undoubtedly key to defining and building structure around what we want and may not be able to afford. The piece also reminded me of the work of Daniel Miller, who has studied the meanings of our stuff for a long time and concludes that the ability to find meaning in things is strongly connected to our ability to find meaning in relationships to other people. In The Comfort of Things, he writes “All my academic studies have shown that the people who successfully forge meaningful relationships to things are often the same as those who forge meaningful relationships with people, while those who fail at one usually also fail at the other, because the two are much more akin and entwined than is commonly appreciated.”