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Redefining luxury: A review essay

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This paper seeks to establish a framework for the study of luxury based and to explore the contemporary luxury scene with the purpose of providing ideas and directions for more in-depth, focused investigations of the production and consumption of luxury goods. Drawing on sociological, anthropological and historical inquiry, it first addresses some of the key definitional, conceptual and moral issues arising in the analysis of luxury. Pointing to the challenges of even defining luxury, the paper adopts and extends a flexible scheme for conceptualizing luxury. This provides a framework for investigation the consumption and management of luxury today. We then examine contemporary luxury through different perspectives on “new luxury” and the related issue of Asia’s rise as the world’s primary market for luxury. While the paper does aim to give a sense of the characteristics of the present-day luxury scene, the central focus of the study is on discourses on luxury. We consider to what extent and in which ways luxury is being redefined – by “new luxury” and Asia’s ascent. Finally the paper suggests themes and pointers for further research.

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Fabian Faurholt Csaba

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