Books/Renata Salecl/Choice

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‘The Tyranny of Choice’ by Renata Salecl


A brilliant study on the nature of choice, and how limitless freedom can lead to despair.

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. The Tyranny of 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.