Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Status Anxiety” as Want to Read:
Status Anxiety
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Status Anxiety

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  5,240 ratings  ·  369 reviews
We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer to a greater or lesser degree, usually privately and with embarrassment from status anxiety. and sets out to investigate both its origins and possible solutions. He looks at history, philosophy, economics, art and politics and reveals the many ingenious ways that great minds ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Status Anxiety, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Status Anxiety

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jun 10, 2008 Ruzz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: brad
Shelves: 2008
this book claims to be absent any original ideas. It cites long (and I mean long) standing philosophical precepts, draws on well worn wisdom and largely repeats what has already been said.

what's remarkable then is that it does so in such a clear and erudite manner that nearly every part of it--and it follows the whole would--makes sense. fundamentally.

it offers no cure for status anxiety (as there isn't one) but it does give great insight into its roots, and some of the ways people have managed
"Status Anxiety" by Alain De Botton is a sparkly book that, for the most part, I enjoyed immensely. However, like other readers, I have some problems with it.

First of all, a gentle reminder to everyone who approaches a "philosophical" book like this one: all this rationalizing of reality can be helpful sometimes, but it is often overestimated, especially by academics. Even though it should be obvious, people tend to forget that reality stays exactly the same, with or without philosophical analys
Corey Fry
Jul 04, 2007 Corey Fry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a job
I loved this book. However, if you're going to read it, be ready to analyze your life, question your ambition and search for ways in which you can better treat your fellow humans.

I love comparitive philosophy. I especially love it when it's well-researched and well-written. Alain's style is conversational and informative but he doesn't come of sounding academic and esoteric. You learn from his research that our modern day obsession with 'stuff' isn't a modern convention.

I loved this book and re
I've read other books by de Botton and (unlike some readers) enjoyed his chatty style and self-deprecating anecdotes. This book is less personal and has more of an essay feel, but the modus operandi is still graceful, readable synthesis and organisation of material from various philosophers. He aims to explain and offer relief for 'status anxiety' in a culture, 'the West', where status is conferred by wealth. I found this book helpful, as I quickly realised that I can explain my attitude to 'Wes ...more
Matt Harris
When I drop my daughter off to her Early Learning Centre in the mornings, I sometimes hop out of the car and away from it with her as quickly as I can. Anxiety about my old Toyota Corolla with the salt-affected roof, and the missing wing mirror actually produces changes in my behaviour which have been frustrating, annoying me. These parents at my daughter's ELC have Mercs, Cayennes. At the very least; large, clean, new cars.

It was with this particular instance in mind that I approached Status A
Really interesting. I don't tend to read this kind of thing, but I saw his TED talk about status, and despite status being something I don't think about a lot, his delivery was interesting and he had some solid ideas.

The book's a short philosophical exercise that goes through causes, and then solutions, of anxiety we feel about status. Both run the gamut from religion, politics, lovelessness, history, and other ways of looking at how we've looked at life over the last couple millennia. Do we pu
Status Anxiety offers a generalized history of Western conceptions of status and the ways that art, philosophy and religion have mediated, supported and challenged these definitions. After several examples chosen from the broadest of time frames, de Botton only briefly mentions how this history can be related to our current time period and doesn't offer any ingenious perspective on how current institutions, behaviors or practices could mediate, support or challenge our current definition of high ...more

Underwhelmed. Botton is erudite, eloquent, wide-ranging, interested and interesting. He claims that we are consumed by status, and status anxiety, because we lack something more profound than the material satisfactions can hope to be. Veritas. He offers quite a few alternatives to the snobbery and mendacity which is obvious to many, if not most, in conspicuous consumption.

But that's sort of the problem- it's all possibility, perspective. Botton diagnoses the problem, surely, and has a lot of le
Chris Gottlieb
Entertaining, but not his best: I'm usually quite a fan of Alain de Botton's writing but I found this book a little disappointing. De Botton has a consistent style and approach: a light-touched, urbane tour of the great minds, usually in search of resolutions to widespread issues or questions, in this case the causes and potential solutions to status anxiety. It is a pick and mix of philosophy, art and economics: not in such large chunks as to be indigestible and sweetened with wit and amusing e ...more
James Marinero
I read this book when I was sailing to Brazil - achieving a lifelong ambition and leaving the rat race for a year or thereabouts. So, I was ready for this, with an open mind (eventually 78 nights at sea, many of them on my back looking at the stars). So, what about the book?

Completely different to 'On Love' and 'The Consolations of Philosophy' (thanks Peter at for putting me on to Alain de Botton), the basic idea that our current system of measuring people on a scale of wealth (an
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. de Botton uses his usual clear and accessible style of philosophizing to dissect just why it is we never seem to be happy where we are, and just what it is that makes us always want more. This is one of those books that should be read once every year. de Botton is probably my favorite living author, and this book hit me at just the right moment in my life, but I suspect it will be relative and useful to me my whole life long.
Adam Wiggins
Status is a cornerstone of human existence. Absolutely everything we do — going to school, getting a job, finding a mate, socializing with friends —is dominated by what standing we have in the groups of people that we are doing these things with.

I wish I had understood this earlier in life, because it explains so much about human behavior: schoolyard bullies, how people flirt in nightclubs, and the rituals of kings, governments, and religions.

A major point in the book is that "status anxiety" is
Todd N
Mar 01, 2015 Todd N rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: finance, favorites
This is the second of two books by Alain de Botton that I've read this month. The first one was about the ability of philosophy to console us during life's trials. This book is an examination of the causes and potential cures for social anxiety, which he defines as "a worry ... that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect."

Living in hypercompetitive Silicon Valley and having experience
The book was published in 2004 ( and they still paint a vivid picture of today's modern world. It is also called "affluenza", a form of overstimulated consumerism based on self-fashioning which has already do its job by spreading to the developing worlds.

In the personal life sphere, the status anxiety is fueled by the slogan such as "be the best you can be", the triumphant pursue of American dreams of bigger house, better clothes, and most often the envy
Aug 31, 2009 Serena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Serena by: Wendy Yu
I had a really great review for this book and then my computer crashed...apologies since this version won't be as good or comprehensive. Overall I'd say that the book was more didactic than I was expecting, but that won't stop me from reading more of his works.

Maybe it's schadenfreude, but there's nothing wrong with validation on our natural human feelings of insecurity, especially given today's economic state. de Botton never gets too preachy as his premise is grounded in several historical exa
This book is a thorough look at a nagging feeling we all experience from time to time: keeping up with the Joneses, whose grass naturally seems to be greener. I became interested in this subject while driving through Palo Alto, during my usual morning game of “count the Teslas”.

Like in many of his other works, de Botton draws effortlessly from Western art, literature, and philosophy to make larger points about social structures and the human condition — the sort of thing I, as an overeager under
Billie Pritchett
Alain be Botton's Status Anxiety is a wonderful little book about the ways in which a rush for social status and a preoccupation with material gains has made us all worse off. Botton explains that in societies today, people tend to believe in meritocracies and idealize their own countries as meritocracies. This means assuming that the people who are on top in society are on top because of hard work and ingenuity and the people who are at the bottom or who are perhaps distributed throughout the m ...more
After beginning with a solid, fairly engaging introduction to the concept of status from a cultural anthropology perspective, de Botton lurches awkwardly into a discussion of religion, science and art. The problem is, he fails to make the connection between these and his original thesis abundantly clear. I wasn't sure what he intended to convey by the end of this book. Wasted time, but at least not too much.
This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is ‘ What do you do?’). With the help of philos
T. Edmund
In his 300 page thesis, Alain De Botton provides us with a thorough examintion of status, and the anxiety which stems from not having it. The blurb initially makes a comparison between romantic desire and the desire for status or 'world love', but rather than looking into status desire as an individual trait, the majority of the book explores cultural perspectives on what is considered high-status.

The strongest chapters discuss how we perceive status as a comparative idea, and how what is consid
What a perfectly delightful book - well-written, thoughtful, careful and creative in its interaction with history, and replete with well-chosen quotations. Not a full length essay, but pieces of ideas that fit into a kind of argument quite nicely. The first five chapters include the causes of status anxiety (lovelessness, expectation, meritocracy, snobbery, and dependence) and the second half examines potential solutions (philosophy, art, politics, religion, bohemia). He early on defines status ...more
Justin Douglas
Had I discovered this book when it came out in 2004, when my teenage self was just starting to question mainstream society's idea of success, it would have saved me ten years of a dull strain of chronic "status anxiety." Completely unaware that that's what it was—and that's exactly the audience de Botton intends to reach—I started devouring, vainly, all the latest books on happiness, only to find that their solutions didn't quite get to the heart of the matter.

"Status Anxiety," on the other hand

A kind and relevant reminder, which is sympathetic and a thoroughly useful self-help book in grasping and dealing with the insecurities which affect most people regardless of their social status. An exploration of the possible causes and solutions to status anxiety. Initially, exemplified by the end of unconditional love leading to lovelessness. Secondly by snobbery which is characterised by childish often juvenile notions of belonging such as only being interested in people who are not interest
Arjun Ravichandran
Soothing consideration of the age-old human absorption with status. Human beings are fundamentally empty vessels ; our ideas and subsequently our conceptions of ourselves, can oftentimes only be filled with our peers. We rely on them to know how we should feel about ourselves. This existential fact of the human condition means that human beings are constitutionally obsessed with status ; while this is good to a certain extent (it drives us to achieve, and also, helps us avoid being sociopaths) i ...more
Are you one of those people who suffers from Status Anxiety? Or are you one of those people who wants to understand more about the topic - Status Anxiety?

Well, let me tell you what this book is all about.

First and foremost, it doesn't give you a solution to your status anxiety.For that you will have to go somewhere else. However, it does give you an in-depth analysis and histories about Status. So that is one more thing... It has a lot about history and the ways the meaning to Status has change
RT Wolf

Anyone who’s ever lost sleep over an unreturned phone call or the neighbor’s Lexus had better read Alain de Botton’s irresistibly clear-headed new book, immediately. For in its pages, a master explicator of our civilization and its discontents turns his attention to the insatiable quest for status, a quest that has less to do with material comfort than with love. To demonstrate his thesis, de Botton ranges through Western history and thought from St. Augustine to Andrew Carnegie and Machiavelli

Apr 14, 2008 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to cut through the bullshit
I liked this book a lot. Yeah, a lot of this is common sense but Alain de Botton has a way of compiling really compelling tidbits and philosophical quotes and applying it to modern day reality in a charming and intelligent manner. Basically, this book can be read alongside the book, Affluenza, in its take on the modern state of society and the ills associated with it. I like that this book goes deeper into the psyche of modern day people and even the collective psyche of the society as a whole. ...more
The start of this book posits a very compelling, and interesting, thesis-- that in the western march towards meritocracy, we have created a society where there are "no excuses" for station in life, causing widespread anxiety and erosion of dignity. If the book had hammered further on this theme, perhaps showing how people create different social lives in order to change their reference points and raise status, or look at social segmentation and the increased preference for anonymous socializatio ...more
A really excellent book in which de Botton examines how we are driven by our desire to have other people think highly of us and, ultimately, our desire to be loved. In the second half of the book he examines five areas that provide 'solutions': philosophy, art, politics, Christianity, Bohemia. I was able to latch on to all of these antidotes to a degree but was very fascinated by his inclusion of Christianity - my fascination made keen mainly because of my own belief in Christianity. One area he ...more
Once upon a time, says Alain de Botton, we told ourselves a story: that the rich were not rich by their merit, nor the poor impoverished for a lack of it. These relative states, in the Christian tradition at least, were pre-ordained, and it was possible to live one's life in squalor without adding self-blame to the misery.

Today, he says, we tell ourselves a different sort of story: that any person can rise and fall based on merit. The results tell a story back to us, about ourselves and our neig
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Happiness: Lessons from a New Science
  • Affluenza
  • The Age Of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be Happy
  • The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life
  • The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy
  • The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
  • Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
  • The Conquest of Happiness
  • Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
  • An Intimate History of Humanity
  • Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life
  • Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy
  • How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer
  • Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others
  • The Philosophy of Friendship
  • Practical Wisdom: The Right Way To Do the Right Thing
  • On the Suffering of the World (Penguin Great Ideas)
  • The Freedom Manifesto
Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday lif
More about Alain de Botton...
The Art of Travel The Consolations of Philosophy How Proust Can Change Your Life On Love The Architecture of Happiness

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“That said, deciding to avoid other people does not necessarily equate with having no desire whatsoever for company; it may simply reflect a dissatisfaction with what—or who—is available. Cynics are, in the end, only idealists with awkwardly high standards. In Chamfort's words, 'It is sometimes said of a man who lives alone that he does not like society. This is like saying of a man that he does not like going for walks because he is not fond of walking at night in the forêt de Bondy.” 156 likes
“Not being understood may be taken as a sign that there is much in one to understand.” 105 likes
More quotes…