Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit Princeton University Press, 2020.
This is a study of conspicuous consumption among the new global leisure class which uses economic anthropology, gender theory, and cultural sociology to makes sense of ostentation.
Winner of an Honorable Mention for best book in the Consumers and Consumption Section of the ASA.
Read an excerpt in The Economist's 1843 Magazine
Listen on The Economist podcast, @ 9:08
See a talk for Chinese readers on YiXi Media
"One of my favorite books of the year," Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
"...a fascinating study," Helen Rosner, The New Yorker
"Five New Books to Read in May, " Fortune.com
“The Non-fiction Edit: What to Read Right Now,” Tatler Magazine
"A fascinating read," Lynn Barber, The Spectator
"Mears has produced a fascinating intellectual study of the murky economics of the nightclub world..." The Daily Beast
“Very Important People depicts a complex world of exchange and exploitation, and warrants praise for doing so without passing predictable moral judgement. More than offering a mere window into the exotic lives of others, Ashley Mears emphasizes themes that should resonate with us all: the labour of marginalized others that lurks behind so much status-seeking consumption, the risks of conflating work with fun and friendship, and the sad fact that “girl power” remains as oxymoronic as ever.” - Times Literary Supplement
"The most revealing exposé of money, power and sexual politics since Gloria Steinem went undercover as a Playboy Bunny," The Times (UK)
"...unexpectedly riveting," The Telegraph
"... rich entertainment. It also offers intellectual insight into this age’s expression of what Thorstein Veblen, the US sociologist, dubbed conspicuous consumption.” – John Gapper, Financial Times
"Perhaps, during its temporary pause, the rich might review their strange rituals. After all, their secret is now out." Forbes
"Champagne sociology," Times Higher Education, UK
Clubbing in the New Gilded Age, The Washington Examiner