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The Sum of Small Things:
A Theory of the Aspirational Class
Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"The Sum of Small Things anatomises [the "aspirational class"] using fascinating American consumption data."--Simon Kuper, Financial Times

"There are a lot of good data in this book."--Danny Dorling, Times Higher Education

"Currid-Halkett’s biting, often humorous commentary is not just a send up of the so-called 'coastal elites.' It’s a trenchant analysis that combines economic and sociological evidence to describe major trends."--Dan Kopf, Quartz

"[Elizabeth Currid-Halkett] paints a remarkably fine-grained portrait of how the spending habits of Americans have evolved over the decades."--Economist


"The Sum of Small Things crackles with original insights about consumer goods and the individuals who choose them. Currid-Halkett's concepts of ‘the aspirational class' and ‘conspicuous production' advance consumption studies and provide fresh news about the search for distinction. Fast-paced, well-told, and unfailingly interesting, this book is an intellectual treat across the board."--Harvey Molotch, author of Against Security

"What are the status consumption habits of the twenty-first century? In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett blends social science and keen observation to present the new, best guide to this topic of never-ending interest, for the status-conscious in all of us."--Tyler Cowen, author of The Complacent Class

"'Organic', 'artisanal', 'boutique'--these are the catchwords of what has become, in Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's view, a new self-regarding social class, grounded less in money than in elite education, and inured to the problems of those less fortunate. This is a timely, original, and disquieting analysis of contemporary American society."--Richard A. Easterlin, University of Southern California

"Exploring how the consumer choices of today’s ‘aspirational class’ express identity and values yet reinforce social exclusivity and economic status, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett’s lively book offers a thoroughly researched and fair-minded update to Veblen’s classic look at the leisure class. Eschewing mockery and polemics, The Sum of Small Things challenges readers to think hard about culture and consumption in a postscarcity economy."--Virginia Postrel, author of The Power of Glamour

"Just as Thorstein Veblen captured his time with the phrase ‘conspicuous consumption,' Elizabeth Currid-Halkett nails the contemporary rise of a subtler but no less materialist inconspicuous consumption. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand modern cities or culture today."--Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

"This book takes readers on a tour of contemporary U.S. inequality--in particular the classes who occupy its highest strata—via characteristic patterns of consumption behavior. Revealing polarizing patterns of class behavior, this engaging and thought-provoking work will attract a substantial readership and generate discussion."—Leonard Nevarez, author of Pursuing Quality of Life

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File created: 9/19/2017

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