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Comparing status/luxury consumption in the UK and India



So, what status consumption is and how it impacts our behaviour? Academics define status consumption as the consumers behavior of trying to purchase brands and services for the luxury they confer, regardless of consumers objective income or social class. luxury consumption in general involves high-end pricy luxury goods. Most people don't consume these products regularly. Some consumers use such products to fulfill material needs but also the social needs.  

To discover the similarities and divergences relating to status consumption, I conducted a study focusing on the luxury consumption practices among the British and Indian consumers. The countries were selected for their historic association, product category affiliation with luxury consumption and commonnesses of brands accessible.

The project focused on 3 essential antecedents of luxury consumption: (a) socio-psychological antecedents; (b) brand roots and (c) situational roots. The socio-psychological antecedents were further branched into three distinct categories namely: (a1) social gains; (a2) esteem indication and (a3) ostentation. The brand roots were also broken into two categories namely: (b1) management controlled brand features and (b2) market controlled brand features.

Rather than talking over the methodology and scale equivalence and such other statistical topics, I will now focus on the status consumption tendencies among the British and Indian consumers. If you wish to read more about it, you can surely visit the source provided below.

It was detected that British consumers applied status consumption to achieve social benefits, show esteem and ostentation behavior. However, in the Indian context consumers engaged in status consumption with generally show-off. This presents the divergences between Western and Eastern consumers and the influence of culture and markets. The British consumers, who belong to  individualistic  culture,  focus  on  their  actual  self-concept. However, in comparison with the Indian consumers, from a collectivist culture, focus  on  others  self-concept  as  they  wish  to signal ostentatious behaviour via luxury consumption.

With regard to Brand roots, it was noticed that both, management controlled and market controlled brand features have a fundamental affect on status consumption. However, British consumers were importantly affected by brand roots than the Indian consumers. This can be ascribed to the nature of the market and competition. The UK is a highly developed and mature luxury market wherein the masses have been exposed  to  the status brands  for  longer  in comparison  to India. The longer exposure and higher availability to global brands as well as the increased competition among producers makes the consumer in Britain progressively conscious of the brands and their symbolic connection.

The findings also indicate that status consumption among Indian consumers is highly dependent on social occasions. The finding proves the considerable divergences among collectivist and individualistic consumers and their luxury consumption practices. Earlier research has found that spending money on status consumption in festivities and social functions of importance lends many real and intangible payoffs in the Indian marketplace including enhanced social status for the consumers. Thus, in a collectivist marketplace like India, consuming flashy brands at special social functions can promote an individuals intra-group and inter-group social identity and broad presence. 


Source: Status consumption among British and Indian consumers

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Pakistan and India in Sussex!



It’s been a pleasant experience meeting Indian students here in Sussex . So far as many Indians as I have met they have been warm, affable,approachable and down-to-earth. Obviously , this is a far-cry from what we were taught in the state text books about the ethos of our Eastern neighbor. The bonhomie takes no time to take root thanks to the common vein of sub continental ways. The first common denominator is language. You can say so many things using so few words with them while it takes awful lot of energy to connect to students from other countries. I don't mean one shouldn't reach out to nationals from other countries but the chemistry is unmatched with it comes to meeting Indians.

I have been particularly unsuccessful in geling with students from Arab countries partly because of my preconceived notions about them being rash, boorish and unruly in their day-to-day behavior and partly because of their disregard for Pakistanis despite the reverence we harbor for them. There are always exceptions of course so this might seem quite a sweeping statement for many , but this is what my experience (and hence the overriding impression of them) has been so far after my interactions with Arab students in the university for more than four years in Pakistan.

About people from Pakistan I have met so far, they seem to have come here (to some extent me too) with the perception of mastering their spoken English. But some get so carried away in the enthusiasm that they give a cold shoulder to their fellow country men in order to avoid speaking in Urdu. For those, like me, who feel some kind of pleasure in speaking Urdu language here in England, this behavior is a clear put-off. This is not to say that they are wrong in their preference of English over Urdu ( or i don't love them as my fellow country men just because they don't speak Urdu with me here) , it is just that I don’t feel comfortable talking in English to a country fellow.May be , many of them do. Looked from this perspective some Indian students have their English airs around though and wouldn't talk to you in Urdu/Hindi. But the majority will give you the kind of atmosphere you might be missing because of being away from your country : the banter , sharing weird Pathan/Sardar jokes that regularly made way to my/their inbox in the home countries , talking about food or just about anything makes you feel at home.

Like all the previous years, Indian students account for one of the largest country groups to study at the University of Sussex this year. In Institute of Development Studies(IDS) alone, there are 34 students (plus two tutors)compared to only 04 from Pakistan with a PHD fellow having started teaching recently. Two Indian Civil Servants(I came to know that the Indian Government sponsors study of 03 Civil Servants from India every year to IDS) couldn’t make it this year because of last-minute requirement of IELTS certificates by the university for issuing Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies letter (CAS) which is a must requirement for UK visa. This is a small reflection of a booming educational system in our neighboring country while we are yet to introduce basic education reforms back in the homeland.

In the South Asia Student Society’s maiden meeting this evening,I found Indian students more forthcoming about my idea for setting up an India-Pakistan friendship society than fellow Pakistanis. About planning celebrations of upcoming festivals like Eid and Diwali there was a clear division between students hailing from Sindh ,Gilgit Baltistan , KPK andPunjab. The president and vice president of the society hailing from Punjabwanted to bring in the Islamic Society when Eid Celebrations were discussed while the rest of us wanted it to be only an India-Pakistan affair. This was no survey of students from Punjab being against friendship initiatives with India but to find them in unison and the president and his VP clearly taking umbrage to my idea of keeping the Islamic Society out of the Eid Celebrations was strange. I wonder what they wanted to achieve by lumpingPakistan with Arab-dominated Islamic Society here. One reason could be the illusional concept of Muslim Ummah all the while forgetting that we owe more allegiance to our neighbors than to distant Arabs who love to hate us for all the wrong reasons!!

Mohan Rao guest lecture - 'Surrogacy as Empowerment: Reproductive Labour as Surplus in neoliberalism' .



Hi everyone, yet another brilliant guest lecture courtesy of the Centre for Bionetworking and in partnership with the Sussex Asian Lecture Series! 

Next Monday (13th May) we're welcoming Mohan Rao, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, to give his lecture lecture: 'Surrogacy as Empowerment: Reproductive Labour as Surplus in neoliberalism' .

Tea, coffee and biscuits available as usual! See you there! (full events info below)

'Surrogacy as empowerment: Reproductive labour as surplus in neoliberalism’

Mohan Rao

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

 Monday 13th May, 12.30-2.00

 Room 103, Fulton Building, University of Sussex

Neo-liberal India is emerging as a centre for reproductive tourism, having, under state patronage, pursued policies for developing medical tourism. Among the procedures for reproductive tourists, is the availability of medical surrogacy. It is argued that the surrogate exercises agency and choice, and that this is a win-win situation, calling only for regulation of clinics and standards. Professor Rao argues, on the contrary, that this is the exploitation of alienated reproductive labour, akin to reproductive slavery. The appropriate policy response is therefore banning all but altruistic surrogacy.

Mohan Rao is a Professor at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is a medical doctor, specialised in public health. He is the author of From Population Control to Reproducive Health: Malthusian Arithmetic (Sage, 2004) and has edited Disinvesting in Health: The World Bank's Health Prescriptions (Sage, 1999) and The Unheard Scream: Reproductive Health and Women's Lives in India (Zubaan 2004). With Sarah Sexton, he has edited Markets and Malthus: Population, Gender and Health in Neo-liberal Times (Sage 2010).

All welcome.

For inquiries: