How the rebel, the beatnik and the hipster became their own status symbols

Movie icon James Dean in a scene from the Warner Brothers movie “Rebel Without A Cause.” Steve Quartz suggests that a change in consumerism in the 1950s played an elemental role in our shift from a hierarchical society to a more pluralistic one — one with different routes to status. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images Editor’s Note: When cracks began to emerge in Steve Quartz’s anti-consumerist beliefs, the professor of philosophy and neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology turned to what he knew best: neuroscience. By developing a new study that he called “consumer neuroscience,” Quartz began to better understand why we consume. What he found led to a book of surprising conclusions. Below, Quartz, the co-author of “Cool: How the Brain’s Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and…


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