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A Contest of Beneficence

A Contest of Beneficence

Prosociality in International Relations

(p.90) Chapter Four A Contest of Beneficence
The Price of Prestige
Lilach Gilady
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines prosociality as conspicuous consumption in international relations. More specifically, it discusses ten puzzling empirical patterns of international prosociality that are consistent with the conspicuous consumption framework. Before analyzing these puzzles and how they relate to conspicuous consumption, the chapter first considers the link between rationalism and prosociality. It then introduces a conspicuous consumption model of prosociality and describes three empirical implications of prosociality as conspicuous consumption: its association with patterns of subordination and domination, its connection to conflict, and its interaction with class. It shows that for prestige maximizers, there is no difference between prosocial other-help and self-help; that actors' prosocial investment is compensated through increased prestige and improved rank; that prosociality requires excess; and that conspicuous displays of excess guarantee prestige.

Keywords:   prosociality, conspicuous consumption, international relations, rationalism, subordination, domination, conflict, class, prestige, excess

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