Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Status symbols change rapidly along with technological and economic change in a society and are often a good indicator of such changes. For instance, before the invention of the printing press, owning a large number of books would be considered a status symbol. After books began to become more widespread, owning books was somewhat less of a status symbol. The histories of pearls or jade present many illuminating examples. Heraldry offers many badges of status.
Status symbols can also indicate the cultural values of a society. In a materialistic or commercial society, wealth and symbols of wealth are often status symbols. In a society valuing bravery or honor, a battle scar would be more of a status symbol.
The expression "status symbol" was first recorded in 1955  but gained wide currency through the 1959 best-seller The Status Seekers in which the journalist Vance Packard described American social stratification and behavior in popularized sociological terms.
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