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Are Unpreferred Preferences Weak in Symbolic Content?

David George

Review of Social Economy, 2004, vol. 62, issue 3, 365-377

Abstract: “Symbolic consumption” is formally unrelated to “second-order preferences”, but the ability to symbolically consume and the ability to have preferences about one's preferences are each uniquely human characteristics. The major question addressed in this paper is this: are symbolic preferences more or less likely than other preferences to be “unpreferred” by the agent experiencing and acting upon them? In previous writings on second-order preferences, I demonstrated the propensity of market forces to overproduce preferences that are judged to be worse than what they replace and underproduce preferences that are judged to be better. In this paper, I offer reasons for believing that the market inefficiency in preference production suggests a decline in symbolic consumption.

Keywords: Symbolic consumption; second-order preferences; market failure (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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DOI: 10.1080/0034676042000253963

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