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Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, professor at the University of Southern California and author of The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, proposes there is a new global elite focused on discreet, inconspicuous consumption. She told the Times, “One of the interesting distinctions between the aspiration class and conventional elites, it’s not about overt materialism,” she says. “It’s not about showing wealth; it’s about showing awareness and knowledge. It’s about cultural capital.”

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