There is no easy way of defining the word Decadence as it varies depending on the context; the history of this complicated term dates back to somewhere between 1870 and 1880, where it was originally used as a noun. Shortly after, it turned into a proper adjective, holding a negative connotation describing a decline in a position of power and stability. However, it has been changing ever since depending on the school of thought it is being used for. For example, a definition of decadence as a behaviour implies holding different from normative or middle-class values, that is, having an admiration for luxury. When used artistically, decadence refers to a movement preferring artificial notions of beauty, inclination towards the aesthetics rather than natural beauty.
Moreover, Decadence- with a capital letter- does not only describe a particular action but is also used as a label or movement for artists who identify themselves as rebels to the norm. To further complicate its use, the label of Decadence is used differently in European culture, American and Britain. A term which initially started off as describing rebellious movement, now implies to a certain growth or resilience away from social conventions. All in all, Decadence is a complex term to defy a certain level of deny, or a contradiction to the social conventions.
Gilman, Richard. “Decadence: The Strange Life of an Epithet”. N.Y.: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1979.
Weir, David. “Decadence.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. : Oxford University Press, , 2014. Oxford Reference. Date Accessed 21 Sep. 2020 .