Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

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Ethnic disparities in consumption patterns (clothing, jewellery, cars, etc.) have been a focus of social research for decades, yet little attention has been paid to conspicuous consumption and the relative importance of ethnicity and social class as its determinants. In an attempt to fill in this gap and to deconstruct the monolithic category of Hispanic consumers, the present study used nationally-representative data from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) to investigate the expenditure patterns of Hispanic consumer households, with a special focus on conspicuous consumption. On the theoretical plane, this study evaluated two alternative explanations of the propensity to consume conspicuous items among ethnic minority households – conspicuous consumption and compensatory consumption theories. The findings demonstrated that, as compared to other Hispanic groups, Cuban Americans tended to spend less on conspicuous items. With the exception of Cuban Americans, Hispanics residing in more affluent neighbourhoods were prone to allocate greater shares of their expenditure to conspicuous goods. We also found a positive association between sociolinguistic assimilation into Anglo culture and conspicuous consumption of Hispanic households.


© 2016, Elsevier Ltd. Original published version available at

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Research in Social Stratification and Mobility



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Sociology Commons



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