A luxury belief is an idea or opinion that confers status on members of the upper class at little cost, while inflicting costs on persons in lower classes.[1] The term is often applied to privileged individuals who are seen as disconnected from the lived experiences of impoverished and marginalized people. Such individuals supposedly hold political and social beliefs that signal their elite status, yet which are alleged to have negative impacts on those with the least influence. [2][3] Exactly what counts as a luxury belief is not always consistent and may vary from person to person, and the term in general is considered to be controversial.

Origin edit

The term is a neologism coined by social commentator Rob Henderson in 2019.[2][4][5] It was coined to describe what he and some other commentators allege is modern trend among allegedly mainly affluent Americans to use their beliefs as a way to, in their eyes, display their social status.[6][7] However, recognition of the phenomenon in sociology predates the term itself.[8]

Details edit

Doug Lemov and co-authors in 2023 described Henderson's concept of the luxury belief as "an idea that confers social status on people who hold it but injures others in its practical consequences".[4] Matthew Goodwin, professor of political science at the University of Kent, further argued in 2023 that such beliefs are held by people "who no longer measure somebody's status or moral worth through money, estates, titles or education but through the new lens of ideas and beliefs."[5].

Some have argued that the belief that marriage and the nuclear family are no better than alternative family arrangements is often cited as a luxury belief,[9][2] despite there being evidence that family instability (which is equated to non-nuclear families, according to at least some who argue for in favor of the term) is associated with poorer outcomes for children.[3][10] Holding such beliefs, according to proponents of the concept, is deemed fashionable for elites but the actual effects on those involved, such as children experiencing family instability, are supposedly harmful.

The term is usually used pejoratively, and those who believe in luxury beliefs argue that those individuals who they suspect of holding luxury beliefs are often hypocritical and insincere.[citation needed]

Luxury beliefs are also, according to the concept's proponents, political positions or supposedly "radical" ideas that the privileged allegedly adopt as a mark of status, and whose trickle-down effects tend to be borne by the less privileged who mimic them, as means to enhance their self esteem and/or to gain approval from others in their social entourage.

Criticism edit

In January 2024, The New York Times published a piece by opinion writer Jessica Grose, where she voiced skepticism on the concept of luxury beliefs and their impact despite commonly being associated with the elites. Her critique centered on an instance where Henderson mentions a Yale classmate who denigrated monogamy and marriage despite coming from a stable two-parent family and intending to continue those practices. Grose pointed out that despite arguments suggesting that beliefs held by elite college students could have outsized influence since they disproportionately lead the country, she has yet to hear of any prominent political figure or corporate leader state that marriage is irrelevant. Throughout the article, Grose highlights different confounding factors that could explain declining views of marriage.[11] She concludes by stating:

"It's easy to point the finger at elites, cherry-pick their statements and stir a moral panic about the decline in the marriage rate over time. It's harder to meaningfully expand the safety net so that fewer children live in poverty — which really should be the focus of all this — even if their parents don't get hitched".[11]

In popular culture edit

On October 2023, former British Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed in a speech that support for the admission of irregular migrants to the United Kingdom is a luxury belief.[12]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Henderson, Rob (February 20, 2024). Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class. Gallery Books. Preface. ISBN 1982168536.
  2. ^ a b c Henderson, Rob (17 August 2019). "Luxury Beliefs Are the Latest Status Symbol for Rich Americans". NY Post. Archived from the original on 18 March 2024.
  3. ^ a b Friedersdorf, Conor (2 March 2024). "What 'Luxury Beliefs' Reveal About the Ruling Class". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 3 March 2024. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  4. ^ a b Lemov, Doug; Lewis, Hilary; Williams, Darryl; Frazier, Denarius (2023). Reconnect: Building School Culture for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging. New York: Wiley. p. 125. ISBN 9781119739999 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Goodwin, Matthew (2023). Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics (ebook). Penguin Random House. p. 118. ISBN 9781802062274 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Lewyn, Michael (October 11, 2023). "'Luxury Beliefs' and Urban Planning". Planetizen. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  7. ^ Pondiscio, Robert (December 9, 2021). "Education's enduring love affair with "luxury beliefs"". Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  8. ^ Abelson, R. P. (1986). "Beliefs are like possessions". Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 16 (3): 223–250. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5914.1986.tb00078.x.
  9. ^ Patrick Parkinson (2022). "Marriage and Luxury Beliefs at the United Nations". Vol. 66, no. 1. Quadrant Magazine. p. 34-39.
  10. ^ Cavanagh, Shannon E.; Fomby, Paula (30 July 2019). "Family Instability in the Lives of American Children". Annual Review of Sociology. 45 (1): 493–513. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-073018-022633. PMC 7388657. PMID 32728311.
  11. ^ a b Grose, Jessica (31 Jan 2024). "Good Marriages Are Good. Bad Marriages Are, Well, Bad". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 February 2024. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  12. ^ "Braverman suggests support for immigration is a 'luxury belief' and claims 'hurricane' of mass migration is coming – as it happened". The Guardian. 3 October 2023. Retrieved 20 October 2023.