Commodifying Fido: pets as status symbols
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How are pets being used as status symbols to display social position and wealth? This paper seeks to theoretically examine pet owners and their use of animals to convey a message of social status, position and wealth. This will be done through an application of theoretical constructs by Veblen, Marx, and Bourdieu and applications to concepts of consumerism, status, commodities and distinction. While the human-animal relationship has been investigated in terms of the human benefits of physical and mental health, stress reduction, child surrogacy, loneliness reduction and more, there have been fewer investigations of pets as social status symbols. This thesis creates a more inclusive theoretical approach to commodities being used as status symbols. After a historical look at how the function of pets has evolved in relation to humans, the more inclusive theory is applied to real world examples of pets in modern affluent societies such as pet luxury items, designer breeds, market segmentation, and mass availability of those products.