Status Anxiety, Paperback
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


In Status Anxiety, bestselling author Alain de Botton sets out to understand our universal fear of failure - and how we might change.

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.

For the first time, Alain de Botton gives a name to this universal condition 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 have overcome their worries.

The result is a book that is not only entertaining and thought-provoking - but genuinely wise and helpful as well. "Clever, wise. De Botton's gift is to prompt us to think about how we live and how we might change things." (The Times). "De Botton analyses modern society with great charm, learning and humour.

His remedies come as a welcome relief when most books offering solutions to the stresses of life recommend the lotus position." (Daily Mail). "Measured, amused, Botton is a surefooted discoverer of the pungent but less well known quote."(Daily Telegraph). "A purveyor of serious buy playful manuals for living." (GQ). "Turned me into a fan, for its range, insight, wit and sheer usefulness." (Daily Express).


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, Illustrations, facsims., ports.
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social, group or collective psychology
  • ISBN: 9780141014869



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Didn't think this was as good as "The Art of Travel", or "How Proust can change your life", but the title is certainly the most hard hitting and visibly relevant of his catalogue - in other words, good thesis idea, glad he put a name on a real phenomenon, but the wit of his other books (which puts you at ease while hitting the nail on the head) is missing a bit from this one.

Review by

I'm rereading this book and enjoy it more the second time, perhaps because I'm not reading it out of curiosity this time. I'm presently living in Jakarta and I can see people living the rat race and being preoccupied with status. Weddings here can be huge and expensive affairs, held in 5-star hotels, while the huge mass of Indonesia lives very poorly and there is much unemployment, undereducation and general preoccupation with personal survival. Yet, the "haves" run must have their Rolex watches, Mercedes Benzs and luxury Singapore condo getaways.Although most people here claim to be religious, their personal ethics would be more fitting for satan-worshipers.But this is probably true of most large cities, where the competition for material goods sucks people into the rat race and qualities of greater intrinsic value: such as kindness, true friendship and humility are cast-away as obstacles to greater status.De Botton seems to be incredibly well read and mentions several novels which have sent me packing to Gutenberg to download and read or reread.Reading this book can save you a lot of money and perhaps help to reduce the stress of living as one understands the futility of pursuing the acquisition of luxuries.

Review by

Weber introduced the notion of the status group which gave a more subtle view of class then classical Marxism. It enables observations of how groups within classes compete. More subtle Marxist used it to understand swing class elements that could be part of a right rather then left political class formation. Its in that context I read this as he explores the changes in social structures. If your station in life is fixed then doh you wont have status anxiety but in a capitalist society where status is fixed in part by the market and what consumed then you do. So this book traces the changes from the one to the other and implications of those changes in a light but not simple way. Measure your status by internal spiritual or intellectual values and keeping up with the jones largely disappears!

Review by
Given the vast inequalities we are daily confronted with, perhaps the most notable feature of envy is that we manage not too envy everyone. There are people whose enormous blessings leave us wholly untroubled, others whose minor advantages act as sources of relentless torment. We envy only those whom we feel ourselves to be like; we envy only members of our reference group. There are few successes more unendurable than those of our close friends.At different times and places, an individual’s status in society has been based on many different things, but in the West in the last 200 years or so, high status has become equated to financial success. Status Anxiety is the feeling we get when we feel a failure, unappreciated and not respected by our fellow men. When we feel that we haven’t reached a high enough rung on the status ladder or that we could lose our grasp and slip further down, we feel ashamed and worry that other people despise us. In the first half of the book Alain de Botton assesses how status anxiety has increased over the centuries, while at the same time the financial and political lot of ordinary people has improved, with status no longer unchangeable and fixed at birth as it was in the Middle Ages. He then turns to the ways that people have devised for ridding themselves of status anxiety, such as the philosophy of the ancient Greek, Christianity or leading a bohemian lifestyle.I'd wanted to read this book since seeing the author's television series on the subject - Interesting.