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A status symbol is a perceived visible, external denotation of one's social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status.[1] Many luxury goods are often considered status symbols. Status symbol is also a sociological term – as part of social and sociological symbolic interactionism – relating to how individuals and groups interact and interpret various cultural symbols.[2]

Personal library of a wealthy American, 1919

Status symbols are also used by persons of much more modest means. In the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall, possession of American-style blue jeans or Status symbols are also used by persons of much more modest means. In the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall, possession of American-style blue jeans or rock music recordings (even pirated or bootlegged copies) was an important status symbol among rebellious teenagers. In the 1990s, foreign cigarettes in China, where a pack of Marlboro could cost one day's salary for some workers, were seen as a status symbol.[12] Mobile phone usage had been considered a status symbol (for example in Turkey in the early 1990s),[13] but is less distinctive today, because of the spread of inexpensive mobile phones. Nonetheless Apple products such as iPod or iPhone are common status symbols among modern teenagers.[14][15]

A common type of modern status symbol is a prestigious luxury branded item, whether apparel or other type of a good.[8] The brand name or logo is often prominently displayed, or featured as a graphic design element of decoration. Certain brands are so highly valued that cheap counterfeit goods or knock-off copies are purchased and displayed by those who do not want to, or are unable to, pay for the genuine item.

See also