Why are people drawn to particular visual trends and cultural preferences, only to abandon them and adopt alternatives for no apparent reason? The writer David Marx, author of a forthcoming book about culture and status, 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.