Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Status Anxiety (Alain de Botton)

Status AnxietyStatus Anxiety by Alain de Botton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great introduction for those who are interested in, yet not very acquainted with, philosophy of ego and status.

De Botton discussus status, how societies come to assign what constitutes high or low status, its effect on an individual's mental state. To illustrate his points, he takes you on a quick historical tour of the different major philosophies and movements that have built on, redefined or outright challenged prevailing definitions of status in different societies.

I highly recommend this book to colleagues in the advertising strategic planning world. This will give you a basic grasp of one of our often used consumer "hot button" -- desire for status. Read this and you will soon find yourself interspersing slides of your consumer FGD quotes with philosophical ideas of the great thinkers. How can a client turn down a consumer insight that's demonstrated at an FGD or ethnography exercise, and then backed up by Adam Smith, Michel de Montaigne, Thomas Hobbes or St. Augustine?

But work aside, I think most people can benefit from reading this book. If you haven't done so yet, Status Anxiety will make you inclined to reevaluate the values that your own social circles and local culture has conditioned you to accept. And it does this without telling you to. Instead, it lays evidence in front of you of how man has, time and again, misattributed indicators of high status.

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