Envoyer sur votre Kindle ou un autre appareil


Essai gratuit

Découvrez gratuitement un extrait de ce titre

Envoyer sur votre Kindle ou un autre appareil

Status Anxiety
Agrandissez cette image

Status Anxiety [Format Kindle]

Alain De Botton
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

Prix conseillé : EUR 13,48 De quoi s'agit-il ?
Prix éditeur - format imprimé : EUR 14,61
Prix Kindle : EUR 8,83 TTC & envoi gratuit via réseau sans fil par Amazon Whispernet
Économisez : EUR 5,78 (40%)

App de lecture Kindle gratuite Tout le monde peut lire les livres Kindle, même sans un appareil Kindle, grâce à l'appli Kindle GRATUITE pour les smartphones, les tablettes et les ordinateurs.

Pour obtenir l'appli gratuite, saisissez votre adresse e-mail ou numéro de téléphone mobile.


Prix Amazon Neuf à partir de Occasion à partir de
Format Kindle EUR 8,83  
Format Kindle, 10 décembre 2008 EUR 8,83  
Relié EUR 22,52  
Relié --  
Broché EUR 9,29  
CD, Livre audio EUR 23,15  
MP3 CD, Livre audio EUR 25,52  

Le Pack de Noël: téléchargez gratuitement plus de 175€ de top applis et jeux avec l'App-Shop Amazon. Offre à durée limitée. En savoir plus.

Les clients ayant acheté cet article ont également acheté

Descriptions du produit




Our Need for Love, Our Desire for Status


Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first-the story of our quest for sexual love-is well known and well charted, its vagaries form the staple of music and literature, it is socially accepted and celebrated. The second-the story of our quest for love from the world-is a more secret and shameful tale. If mentioned, it tends to be in caustic, mocking terms, as something of interest chiefly to envious or deficient souls, or else the drive for status is interpreted in an economic sense alone. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first, it is no less complicated, important or universal, and its setbacks are no less painful. There is heartbreak here too.


Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Edinburgh, 1759):

"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 labourer 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."


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. Money, fame and influence may be valued more as tokens of-and means to-love rather than ends in themselves.

How may a word, generally used only in relation to what we would expect or hope for from a parent, or a romantic partner, be applied to something we might want from and be offered by the world? Perhaps we can define love, at once in its familial, sexual and worldly forms, as a kind of respect, a sensitivity on the part of one person to another's existence. To be shown love is to feel ourselves the object of concern: our presence is noted, our name is registered, our views are listened to, our failings are treated with indulgence and our needs are ministered to. And under such care, we flourish. There may be differences between romantic and status forms of love-the latter has no sexual dimension, it cannot end in marriage, those who offer it usually bear secondary motives-and yet status beloveds will, just like romantic ones, enjoy protection under the benevolent gaze of appreciative others.

People who hold important positions in society are commonly labelled "somebodies," and their inverse "nobodies"-both of which are, of course, nonsensical descriptors, for we are all, by necessity, individuals with distinct identities and comparable claims on existence. Such words are nevertheless an apt vehicle for conveying the disparate treatment accorded to different groups. Those without status are all but invisible: they are treated brusquely by others, their complexities trampled upon and their singularities ignored.

While there will inevitably be economic ramifications, the impact of low status should not be read in material terms alone. The gravest penalty rarely lies-above subsistence levels, at least-in mere physical discomfort; it consists more often, even primarily, in the challenge that low status poses to a person's sense of self-respect. Provided that it is not accompanied by humiliation, discomfort can be endured for long periods without complaint. For proof of this, we have only to look to the example of the many soldiers and explorers who have, over the centuries, willingly tolerated privations far exceeding those suffered by the poorest members of their societies, so long as they were sustained throughout their hardships by an awareness of the esteem in which they were held by others.

The benefits of high status are similarly seldom limited to wealth. We should not be surprised to find many of the already affluent continuing to accumulate sums beyond anything that five generations might spend. Their endeavours are peculiar only if we insist on a strictly material rationale behind wealth creation. As much as money, they seek the respect that stands to be derived from the process of gathering it. Few of us are determined aesthetes or sybarites, yet almost all of us hunger for dignity; and if a future society were to offer love as a reward for accumulating small plastic discs, then it would not be long before such worthless items too assumed a central place in our most zealous aspirations and anxieties.


William James, The Principles of Psychology (Boston, 1890):

"No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all the members thereof. If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met "cut us dead," and acted as if we were non-existent things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would before long well up in us, from which the cruellest bodily torture would be a relief."


How are we affected by an absence of love? Why should being ignored drive us to a "rage and impotent despair" besides which torture itself would be a relief?

The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value, as a result of which affliction we tend to allow others' appraisals to play a determining role in how we see ourselves. Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgements of those we live among. If they are amused by our jokes, we grow confident in our power to amuse. If they praise us, we develop an impression of high merit. And if they avoid our gaze when we enter a room or look impatient after we have revealed our occupation, we may fall into feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.

In an ideal world, we would be more impermeable. We would be unshaken whether we were ignored or noticed, admired or ridiculed. If someone praised us insincerely, we would not be unduly seduced. And if we had carried out a fair assessment of our strengths and decided upon our value, another's suggestion that we were inconsequential would not wound us. We would know our worth. Instead, we each appear to hold within ourselves a range of divergent views as to our native qualities. We discern evidence of both cleverness and stupidity, humour and dullness, importance and superfluity. And amid such uncertainty, we typically turn to the wider world to settle the question of our significance. Neglect highlights our latent negative self-assessments, while a smile or compliment as rapidly brings out the converse. We seem beholden to the affections of others to endure ourselves.

Our "ego" or self-conception could be pictured as a leaking balloon, forever requiring the helium of external love to remain inflated, and ever vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect. There is something at once sobering and absurd in the extent to which we are lifted by the attentions of others and sunk by their disregard. Our mood may blacken because a colleague greets us distractedly or our telephone calls go unreturned. And we are capable of thinking life worth living because someone remembers our name or sends us a fruit basket.


Given the precariousness of our self-image, it should not be surprising that, from an emotional point of view no less than from a material one, we are anxious about the place we occupy in the world. This place will determine how much love we are offered and so, in turn, whether we can like or must lose confidence in ourselves. It holds the key to a commodity of unprecedented importance to us: a love without which we will be unable to trust or abide by our own characters.



Material Progress


In July 1959, the American vice president, Richard Nixon, travelled to Moscow to open an exhibition showcasing some of his country's technological and material achievements. The highlight of the exhibition was a full-scale replica of the home of an average member of America's working class, equipped with fitted carpets, a television in the living room, two en suite bathrooms, central heating and a kitchen with a washing machine, a tumble dryer and a refrigerator.

Reporting on this display, an incensed Soviet press angrily denied that an ordinary American worker could conceivably live in such luxury, and advised its readers to dismiss the entire house as propaganda after mockingly baptising it the "Taj Mahal."

When Nixon led Nikita Khrushchev around the exhibition, the leader was comparably sceptical. Outside the kitchen of the model home, Khrushchev pointed to an electric lemon squeezer and remarked to Nixon that no one in his right mind would wish to acquire such a "silly gadget."

"Anything that makes women work less hard must be useful," suggested Nixon.

"We don't think of women in terms of workers-like you do in the capitalist system," snapped an irate Khrushchev.

Later that same evening, Nixon was invited to appear live on Soviet television, an occasion he used to expound on the advantages of American life. Shrewdly, he did not begin his speech by touting democracy or human rights; instead he spoke of money and material progress. Nixon explained that in just a few hundred years, Western countries had managed, through enterprise and industry, to overcome the poverty and famine that had gripped the world until the middle of the eighteenth century and continued even up to the present day to plague many other nations. Americans had purchased 56 million television sets and 143 million radios, he informed his Soviet listeners, a large number of whom did not have private bathrooms or possess so much as a kettle. The members of the average American family could buy nine new dresses and suits and fourteen new pairs of shoes every year, he noted, and some 31 million families owned their own homes. In the United States, houses could be had in a thousand different architectural styles, most boasting greater square footage than the television studio they were broadcasting from. Sitting next to Nixon, an infuriated Khrushchev clenched his fists and mouthed, "Nyet! Nyet!"-adding under his breath, according to one account, "Ëb' tvoyu babushky" ("Go fuck your grandmother").


Khrushchev's protestation notwithstanding, Nixon's statistics were accurate. In the two centuries preceding his speech, the countries of the West had witnessed the fastest and most dramatic elevation of living standards in human history.

The majority of the population of medieval and early modern Europe had belonged to the peasant class. Impoverished, undernourished, cold and fearful while alive, they were usually dead-following some further agony-before their fortieth birthday. After a lifetime of work, their most valuable possession might have been a cow, a goat or a pot. Famine was never far off, and disease was rife, among the most common conditions being rickets, ulcers, tuberculosis, leprosy, abscesses, gangrene, tumours and cankers.


Then, in early-eighteenth-century Britain, the great Western transformation began. Thanks to new farming techniques (including crop rotation, scientific stock breeding and land consolidation), yields began to increase sharply. Between 1700 and 1820, Britain's agricultural productivity doubled, releasing capital and manpower that flowed into the cities to be invested in industry and trade. The invention of the steam engine and the cotton power loom modified not only working practices but social expectations. Towns exploded in size. In 1800, only one city in the British Isles, London, could boast a population of more than a hundred thousand; by 1891, twenty-three English cities would make that claim. Goods and services that had formerly been the exclusive preserve of the elite were made available to the masses. Luxuries became decencies, and decencies necessities. Daniel Defoe, travelling around southern England in 1745, noted the proliferation of large new shops with enticing window displays and tempting offerings. Whereas for much of recorded history fashion had remained static for decades at a time, it now became possible to identify specific styles for every passing year (in England in 1753, for example, purple was in vogue for women's gowns; in 1754, it was the turn of white linen with a pink pattern; in 1755, dove grey was the rage).

The nineteenth century expanded on and spread the British consumer revolution. Gigantic department stores opened throughout Europe and America: the Bon Marché and Au Printemps in Paris, Selfridge's and Whiteley's in London, Macy's in New York. All were designed to appeal to the new industrial middle class. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of a twelve-storey Marshall Field's in Chicago in 1902, the manager, Gordon Selfridge, proclaimed, "We have built this great institution for ordinary people,

so that it can be their store, their downtown home, their buying headquarters." It was not intended, he emphasised, just for the "swagger rich."

A host of technological inventions helped to stretch mental horizons even as they altered the patterns of everyday life: the old cyclical view of the world, wherein one expected next year to be much like (and just as bad as) last, gave way to the notion that mankind could progress yearly towards perfection. To list only a few of these inventions:

- CORNFLAKES, patented by J. H. Kellogg in 1895 (Kellogg had hit upon the concept by accident, when the grain mixture he served to inmates in his sanatorium unexpectedly hardened and then shattered into flakes)

- the CAN OPENER, patented in 1870

- the SAFETY PIN, invented in 1849

- the SEWING MACHINE, developed by I. M. Singer in 1851 (ready-made clothes would become more common from the 1860s; machine-made underclothes would be introduced in the 1870s)

- the TYPEWRITER, invented in 1867 (the first full-length manuscript to be typed was Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi, published in 1883)

- PROCESSED FOODS: By the 1860s, the British company Crosse & Blackwell was producing twenty-seven thousand gallons of ketchup a year. In the early 1880s, the chemist Alfred Bird came up with an eggless custard powder. Blancmange powder was developed in the 1870s, and jelly crystals in the 1890s.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This sophisticated gazebo of a book is the latest dispatch from the Swiss-born, London-based author of the influential handbook How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel (1997). Promising to teach us how to duck the "brutal epithet of 'loser' or 'nobody,' " de Botton notes that status has often been conflated with honor and that the number of men slain while dueling has amounted, over the centuries, to the hundreds of thousands. That conflation is a trap from which de Botton suggests a number of escape routes. We could try philosophy, the "intelligent misanthropy" of Schopenhauer, for who cares what others think if they're all a pack of ninnies anyhow? Art, too, has its consolations, as Marcel found out in Remembrance of Things Past. A novelist such as Jane Austen, with her little painted squares of ivory, can reimagine the world we live in so that we see fully how virtue is actually "distributed without regard to material wealth." De Botton also discusses bohemia, the reaction to status and the attack on bourgeois values, wisely linking this movement to dadaism, whose founder, Tristan Tzara, called for the "idiotic." The phenomenon known as "keeping up with the Joneses" is nothing new, and not much has changed in the 45 years since the late Vance Packard, in The Status Seekers, wrote the definitive analysis of consumer culture and its discontents. But even at the peak of his influence, Packard was never half as suave as de Botton. (A three-part TV documentary, to be shown in the U.K. and in Australia, and hosted by de Botton, has been commissioned to promote the book.) Lively and provocative, de Botton proves once again that originality isn't necessary when one has that continental flair we call "style."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 14129 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 320 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : Reprint (10 décembre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B001NJUPD4
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°164.993 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
  •  Souhaitez-vous faire modifier les images ?

En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Découvrez des livres, informez-vous sur les écrivains, lisez des blogs d'auteurs et bien plus encore.

Commentaires en ligne

5 étoiles
3 étoiles
1 étoiles
3.0 étoiles sur 5
3.0 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Le besoin de reconnaissance est aujourd'hui un sujet majeur dans nos entreprises et partout dans notre société.

Alain de Botton analyse les racines de ce phénomène à travers une exploration historique brillante, enlevée, pleine d'humour et de profondeur.

Il démontre que le culte, somme toute récent dans l'histoire, de l'égalité des chances et de la méritocratie renvoie, par contraste, à chacun la responsabilité de ses échecs et de l'éventuelle modestie de sa position sociale. Il propose quelques pistes philosophiques au lecteur pour aider celui-ci à échapper à l'obsession du statut et à apprécier les autres pour ce qu'ils sont et pas seulement pour ce qu'ils font ou qui ils fréquentent.

Une bonne lecture de "vacances intelligentes", qui nourrira sans aucun doute des discussions animées entre amis !
Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ?
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Nicely done 19 août 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Yet what is new? Sounds like an analyst job telling things already known (mostly). Well written, entertaining, but nothing new under the sun. I was hoping for more than a summer book, so two stars for being disappointed.
Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ?
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  68 commentaires
162 internautes sur 166 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Salve for the Status Conscious 9 août 2004
Par Christopher Hefele - Publié sur Amazon.com
Alain de Botton (AdB) has written another book in his trademark witty, erudite style, kind of like a Woody Allen with a classical education. This time, his topic is the quest for social status. He probes the causes, and explores various prescriptions taken from philosophy, art, politics, religion, and bohemia to sooth our fears. He uses historical examples, from Tocqueville to Tony Robbins, to help us keep perspective and to sooth our anxieties.

I thought this was enjoyable summer reading, though not profound or complete by any means - although it was not meant to be. Also, some of AdB's other books are slightly better, so if this is the first book by AdB you want to read, I'd recommend "How Proust can Change your Life" first. But if the topic intrigues you, as it did me, then by all means give this book a try.

A summary of the topics covered is below:

First, AdB begins by claiming that it's human nature that we want to be a "somebody" rather than a "nobody," and to rise rather than fall or remain at too modest a rung on the social latter. This hunger for status can indeed drive us to achieve - but it also leads to a kind of restlessness characteristic of free, meritocratic societies. In contrast, there was no such anxiety in the Medieval caste system, because ones social status was fixed for life.

One root cause of our anxiety, AdB claims, is that our egos are forever leaky balloons forever requiring helium of recognition and love, but always vulnerable to pinpricks. The prescription: Don't take others evaluation too seriously - after all, "does an emerald become worse if it isn't praised?" Also, remember that the views of the masses are often perforated with confusion and error, relying on intuition, emotion, and custom rather than rationality. As Voltaire says, "the earth swarms with people who are not worth talking to"

Also, one must realize that the determinants of high status continually shift. For example, Spartans prized aggressive warriors; the Cubeo tribe in the Amazon prized those who killed jaguars. In contrast, peaceful saints were idolized in Medieval Europe, as were "gentlemen" in industrial England. Today, commercial success is our measuring stick - money signals success. But that definition also ties us to some new and unpredictable forces, such as our employer's success, flux in the global economy, and. technological change.

By using money as today's yardstick, we have sorely forgotten that cash and material goods are not the sole measure of a person's worth. In contrast, Bohemians, who devoted themselves to art and the intellect rather than material success, thought that those who achieved material success in society were those who pandered most effectively to the flawed values of their audiences. AdB also quotes Montaigne to remind us that we must evaluate people through a different lens: "A man may have a great suite of attendants, a beautiful palace, great influence, and a large income. All that may surround him, but it is not *in* him...What sort of soul does he have?"

Another cause of our status anxiety is our own high expectations. Wealth is relative to desire, and in an age of seemingly limitless expectations and material goods, we are weighed down by the limits of economics and reality, which yields permanent distress. We are also quietly influenced by our peers, advertising, and other outside forces that shape our desires rather than listening to our own souls. We also "mis-want" - that is, we think new products will make us happier than they actually will. The prescription is that if we must continue to long for things, we must take care to long for the right things, and tune into our own true desires.

Finally, envy can be cured by realizing that anyone's achievements seem insignificant in the context of the millennia and the expansive wonders of nature. Also, we should always keep in mind that at the end of one's days, the value of love, true friends, and charity will outweigh the quest for power, wealth, status and glory.
50 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 On the Unalienable Right to the pursuit of Happiness 25 mai 2004
Par Celia Redmore - Publié sur Amazon.com
The skill of Swiss-born Alain de Botton lies in his ability to peel back the layers of complexity surrounding human relationships and lay bare the kernel. In "Status Anxiety" he looks for the source of modern angst-not to mention obsession-about our social rank. In particular, he examines the stories we tell ourselves to explain the righteousness of our situation and how those stories affect our happiness.
De Botton looks back at a time long ago when peasants led a far harsher existence in material terms, but rarely worried that their difficulties were "their own fault." Thus had God made the world, and such were the affairs of men supposed to be. When we could not improve our social rank or material worth, there was no tendency to confuse riches with saintliness.
Starting from that idealized Rousseau-esque time, the author follows changing ideas about personal rights and responsibilities and finds a distinct downside to the whole concept of Western meritocracy. If we can be anything we want to be, our current relative lack of wealth, power, beauty and fame must be our own fault. No longer able to blame God, bad luck or the stars for misfortune, we see the world split into winners (virtuous, hard-working and strong) and losers (evil, lazy and weak). Where we once understood the complexity and frailty of human existence, we now see the world in terms of newspaper headlines: "Oedipus the King: Royal in Incest Shocker."
Finally, "Status Anxiety" looks at some of the ways that modern humans have tried to escape this social trap. It considers both bohemian and Christian philosophies and finds merits in both, if notably fewer in bohemianism. Ultimately, the book concludes, if our current set of values offers true happiness and contentment to only an elite minority, the democratic solution is to change those values. De Botton's contribution to that end is this book.
103 internautes sur 117 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Literary Tour 11 avril 2006
Par Douglas Doepke - Publié sur Amazon.com
Turn on the tv or pick up a magazine, and chances are you'll experience a well crafted exercise in status envy, the stock-in-trade of our highly inventive advertising industry. Commercials are designed to create a need where none exists, and in many instances, where none should exist. It's this latter that is really the subject of de Botton's book. The text amounts to a learned yet oddly remote treatment of how we judge others and ourselves through the prism of status, a very serious and messy subject.

The book's first half, is informative and helpful, furnishing needed analytic and historical perspective, particularly the chapter on the self-defeating nature of expectation. However, the text would have been stronger and less remote had the author updated his account to current times instead of inexplicably trailing off in the 19th century. He really needs more research on the 20th century, when the problem of status anxiety exploded with the advent of the "level playing field". It's this literary-style approach that limits itself to previous centuries that separates his account from our current climate, and underlies much reader dissatisfaction.

The book's second half is given over to proposed remedies. From a merchandising point of view, this half amounts to an erudite guide for those seeking relief from the problem of is-my-standing-in-society-good-enough. Philosophy, art, and religion-- all share the capacity to reorient life's values away from social status to those transcendant values pointing toward the eternal. Of course, there's nothing like a view from eternity for stripping away petty concerns like status envy-- and everything else, for that matter . The problem with eternity is that the view from there tends to flatten out every value so that we're left with something like the existentialist's "absurdity of existence". Also, it's hard to be any happier with de Botton's alternative of Bohemian self-indulgence, which strikes me as arrogantly parasitic on the very body of producers whom these "free spirits" sneer at. As a class, the bourgeiosie may at times be detestable. But the point is to surmount their preoccupation with status, not to arrogantly sneer at them.

The real problem is that the author's proposed remedies all dwell on how the individual himself can change and not on how the society that is causing the problem can itself be changed. In my book, it's in that messy, frustrating, often unrewarding sphere of politics where the solution to status envy lies-- that is, in creating a more humane environment for us all and not for just an "enlightened few". For in an increasingly globalized world, where we all breathe the same fumes and watch the same water rise from a flood of status symbols, there is no escape into personal solutions. I wish the author had spent more than five ill-focused pages on the grubby but indispensible topic of social change.

On the whole, the book is very well-written and provides some important historical perspective. But, I'm afraid his material is better suited to a seminar in English literature than to a popular discussion of a very real and symptomatic societal disease.
33 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 What About Me? 22 août 2006
Par Greg Hughes - Publié sur Amazon.com
The craving for approval and recognition, the fear of being seen as a Loser or a Nobody, are all summed up in a condition that Alain de Botton calls "status anxiety". Anyone who has seen the British comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances" will probably agree that Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bouquet") is a chronic sufferer of this condition. Status anxiety also encompasses envy, social climbing and comparisons to our peers, something more commonly known as "keeping up with the Jones's". It's not enough to be happy with what we've got.

Alain de Botton's book provides the reader with an informed analysis of what drives so many people to worry about what others think of them. Even though we're materially better off than medieval peasants, many of us still feel discontented with our lot in life. Peasants in the Middle Ages were born to be poor and downtrodden, hungry and illiterate; they had no expectations of a better life. The wealthy nobility were born to rule; this was how God had decreed it. But since the Middle Ages this has all changed.

Improvements in health and education, technological advances and greater equality have given birth to the Western concept of "meritocracy". This is the doctrine that proclaims anyone can get ahead in life, no matter who they are, what they are or where they come from. Wealth and success, attained by our own hard work and talent, are seen to be "deserved". Unfortunately there is a flip side to this. If wealth and success are deserved that must mean poverty and failure are also deserved. It can't be put down to bad luck because "we make our own luck." When people don't fulfill their dreams or potential they become disenchanted and bitter. And so we come to the root causes of status anxiety.

Throughout the book Alain de Botton gives us a range of historical perspectives to illustrate the changing standards of status over the ages. In ancient Sparta those at the top of the heap were men of war who had no interest in commerce or family life, children born weak were left to die; in the 21st century we're obsessed with high salaries, and the unemployed are unfairly stigmatized as lazy and unmotivated. As de Botton says, unemployment is perceived as the "modern equivalent of cowardice in warrior eras." We treat film stars like royalty but in Shakespeare's time actors were beneath contempt. Big houses and expensive cars confer prestige. All this makes one wonder what future ages will make of our own time. Maybe they'll be amazed that we had a fetish for those clumsy metal contraptions that killed or maimed thousands of people every year and polluted the environment. Or maybe there will be some other gadget that people feel like they have to have in order to be classed a "success".

In Part Two of the book some solutions to status anxiety are offered. The contemplation of death and ruins can be a comfort. Ruins remind us that nothing is permanent or immutable. Time and nature eventually destroy everything we've built and worked for, fame does not equal immortality. Although we pay close attention to the minutiae of a celebrity's life will people still care in ten billion years? Unlikely. We're all equal in death. Unless people worry about status in the afterlife?

For anyone who is new to philosophy and the human condition "Status Anxiety" is intelligently written and will point you in the direction of other scholars, writers and artists. A great blend of philosophy, history and literature.
32 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Book of Popular Philosophy Well Worth Reading 5 mai 2006
Par Daniel A. Spiro - Publié sur Amazon.com
My hat goes off to anyone who can write best sellers in the realms of philosophy, and Alain de Botton has clearly figured out the knack. Professional philosophers may scoff at the lack of rigor in his work, and even I (a non-PhD) would scoff at the self-help feel of much of this book. Still, these are quibbles when compared to all that de Botton has accomplished in figuring out how to lead a wide audience on a lively expedition of a serious philosophical topic.

Mke no mistake -- status anxiety is a profound force in our society. Marketers know it. Corporate executives know it. Yet for some reason, philosophers tend to neglect it. We are fortunate that de Botton is not among them.

Through delightful prose, de Botton raises in my mind the question of exactly why our society allows itself to be dominated by status if this concept produces so much anxiety and, ultimately, sorrow. Adam Smith would surely point out the tremendous economic benefits to this phenomenon, and many a corporate CEOs would have to agree. But are we as individuals mere servants of an economic machine? Can we not identify social structures that can help alleviate the power of status-seeking in our lives?

Other readers have pointed out how much better a job de Botton has done in diagnosing the disease than in finding a cure. But I don't blame him for that failure, for he has accomplished quite enough already. Now that we understand the importance of status-seeking as the most abundant and yet polluted fuel behind the energy of a capitalist world, could politicians, academicians and others PLEASE come together and help us find a healthful filter? I'm tempted to add "... before it's too late," but I sometimes fear that the bell has already tolled in that regard. Surely, though, if we put our heads together -- rather than butting heads to see who is smarter -- we can figure out a way to put status in its place.
Ces commentaires ont-ils été utiles ?   Dites-le-nous
Rechercher des commentaires
Rechercher uniquement parmi les commentaires portant sur ce produit

Discussions entre clients

Le forum concernant ce produit
Discussion Réponses Message le plus récent
Pas de discussions pour l'instant

Posez des questions, partagez votre opinion, gagnez en compréhension
Démarrer une nouvelle discussion
Première publication:
Aller s'identifier

Rechercher parmi les discussions des clients
Rechercher dans toutes les discussions Amazon

Rechercher des articles similaires par rubrique