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Book reviews >

Reading groups: Time to stop keeping up with the Joneses

Hugh Raymond-Pickard on Status Anxiety by Alain de Bouton

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Western civilisation is sick, Alain de Botton says. The disease, which forms the title of this book, is status anxiety. We have an unhealthy concern about our place in life and what the world thinks of us.

This disease has always been a human affliction, but in modern Western societies we are suffering from an epidemic. In pre-modern times, before rampant capitalism and mass consumerism, most people lived a peasant existence on a level of equal poverty with others. ...

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