Choice

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Renata Salecl
Profile Books (June 2010)

We are encouraged from all sides to view our lives as being full of choices. Like the products on a supermarket shelf, our careers, our relationships, our bodies, our very identity seem to be there for the choosing. But paradoxically this seeming freedom to choose can create extreme anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Choice explores how late capitalism’s shrill exhortations to ‘be oneself’ can be a tyranny which only leads to ever-greater disquiet.

Drawing on diverse examples from popular culture - from dating sites and relationship self-help books, to our obsession with imitating celebrities’ lifestyles - and fusing sociology, psychoanalysis and philosophy, Salecl shows that choice is rarely based on a simple rational decision with a predictable outcome. With wisdom, humour and sensitivity, she examines the complexity of the essential human capacity to choose which has become mired in consumerist ironies.

  • Renata Salecl is Centennial Professor at the department of law at LSE.

Reviews

‘In this elegant, thoughtful essay, Renata Salecl shows us how today's abundance of choice makes us more anxious than ever before and less free than we might like to think. Beautifully crafted and concise, it will make readers question the hidden logic of their everyday lives’
Darian Leader

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Choice