Why are people drawn to particular visual trends and cultural preferences, only to abandon them and adopt alternatives for no apparent reason? The writer W. David Marx, author of Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change, has a theory that people gravitate toward certain behaviors and aesthetic styles because of the status such choices convey to others. Social groups abide by particular conventions; adopting these conventions is a way of signaling one’s affiliation. A newly minted millionaire can prove their status to other millionaires by whipping out an American Express black card, and a successful businessperson might display their university diplomas, communicating to their colleagues the belief that they got there on merit. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Three Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 49 Karin Mamma Andersson Inside the moody, mysterious world of Sweden’s preeminent painter. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Mass Destruction “Artists are often left baffled by the fact that they have millions of monthly streams, yet only a couple of thousand followers on social media.” Arts & Culture Issue 49 On the Cheap The greatness of cultural worsts. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Memes of Communication A conversation about digital folklore. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Designated Drudgery How to take a load off. Arts & Culture Issue 30 Knowing Me, Knowing You Think twice before seeking out your doppelgänger.