“To what purpose is all the toil and bustle of this world? What is the end of avarice and ambition, of the pursuit of wealth, of power and pre-eminence? Is it to supply the necessities of nature? The wages of the meanest laborer can supply them. What then are the advantages of that great purpose of human life which we call bettering our condition?
“To be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation, are all the advantages which we can propose to derive from it. The rich man glories in his riches because he feels that they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world. The poor man on the contrary is ashamed of his poverty. He feels that it places him out of the sight of mankind. To feel that we are taken no notice of necessarily disappoints the most ardent desires of human nature. The poor man goes out and comes in unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in the same obscurity as if shut up in his own hovel. The man of rank and distinction, on the contrary, is observed by all the world. Everybody is eager to look at him. His actions are the objects of the public care. Scarce a word, scarce a gesture that fall from him will be neglected.”
---Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
"The predominant impulse behind our desire to rise in the social hierarchy may be rooted not so much in the material goods we can accrue or the power we can wield as in the amount of love we stand to receive as a consequence of high status. "
--Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety