Journal article

What Is Luxury?: The Rebirth of a Concept in the Early Modern World

Catherine Kovesi

LUXURY-HISTORY CULTURE CONSUMPTION | ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD | Published : 2015

Abstract

Luxury is one of the key words of our time, driving a multimillion dollar global industry, and used ubiquitously to describe exclusive objects and aspirational lifestyles. However, defining the concept in concrete terms is more elusive and problematic. Part of the definitional problem lies in the longer history and use of this concept. This article looks at luxury's longue durée, and aims to clarify some common misunderstandings around its use. It reminds us that, in its origins luxury was not a term to describe consumption by elites, but one used to denigrate the consumer practices of newly emerging wealthy classes. It argues for four key phases in the development of the concept: the ancien..

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