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 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. Arts & Culture Issue 29 Mime Culture On lip-syncing and the allure of mouthing along. Arts & Culture Issue 26 Everything and Nothing It was Isaac Newton who suggested that black was not a color. History suggests otherwise. Arts & Culture Issue 24 Word: Desenrascanço Forget hygge: Uncertain times call for problem-solving the Portuguese way.