Monday, January 3, 2011

Status-Seeking Shifts

Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety:
Philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia have never sought to do away entirely with the status hierarchy; they have attempted, rather, to institute new kinds of hierarchies based on sets of values unrecognised by, and critical of, those of the majority. While maintaining a firm grip on the differences between success and failure, good and bad, shameful and honourable, these five entities have endeavoured to remould our sense of what may rightfully be said to belong under those weighty and dichotomous headings.
I would guess that most people seeking to escape the "conventional" status hierarchy don't shift to not caring about status (although that is likely how they would describe their shift in thinking) but rather to caring about their status within a different, nichefied group that has a different set of expectations and where status is based on different criteria which is now more attainable to the individual.


  1. Good point. Maybe we can't eliminate status-seeking, but can we at least de-emphasize it? Status, after all, is just one piece in a bundle of forces that shape our behavior.

  2. Status helps us make sense of the world - simple categorizations. If we think our opinions and thoughts are right or at least somewhat logical - aren't we thereby creating a standard and a resulting hierarchy?

    I think most people, when left unto their own devices, create a worldview where they are mostly right, but not all-knowing. (few people would claim perfection, It isn't comfortable to claim, but mostly good/right feels nice) In fact I would say that if we reject objective truth (a universal standard of truth), it is the only logical conclusion to create a very personal subjective standard which results in a polarizing perspective. Is it even possible to not be polarized, to reject status?

    Of course the humor and the trouble behind not caring about status is that we are forced into a subjective vicious circle of truth whereby a belief in subjectivity (not caring about status) has to be inherently subjective. But that's a whole other matter. =)

    - my thoughts anyway

  3. I read Status Anxiety last year and thought it was excellent.

    I think you're exactly right Brett. Many people falsely believe they have escaped the "rat race" when all they have really done is chosen a different race. Same game, different rules. Nonetheless, choosing the "right" game is very important.