Learning Journal

Learning Journal of Documentary: Alain de Botton- Status Anxiety

Culture is the collection of spiritual and material wealth created by humankind through
sociohistorical practice. In a narrow sense, culture is society’s ideology and the communications

of individuals and organisations. It helps people to build the norms, customs and the rules that
organise people and manage social life. (Storey,2021) The documentary “Status Anxiety” is
divinely thrilling, whether it’s assessing Christianity’s class consciousness or the convulsions of
modern capitalism, duelling as well as household. And it is not only wise but also helpful when it
examines the virtues of informed misanthropy, art appreciation, or walking a lobster on a leash.


Alain believes that meritocracy is a root cause of this concern because an elitist society
feels that only the talented and hardworking people can take a lead in society, and everyone else.
This is scum. This is scum. Such a society fosters “effort” and “concurrence,” so that everyone is
constantly compared. And since elitism admits that social differences are high and low, people
who constantly compare fear they will be compared to others. (Botton,2014) Normally, through
major social establishment such as education, that elitist ideology is acknowledged, accepted and
self-digesting. Education is increasingly seen as a privately held commodity aimed at enhancing
social mobility for individuals or maintaining their socio-economic status. This view is a tacit
understanding of “all striving for the best” (social mobility) (Botton,2014)

Cause of Anxiety

Mental health reflected by monopoly capitalism, in the final chapter of “Monopoly
Capital” Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy clarified the impact of monopoly capitalism on mental
health. They believe that the system “and fails to “provide a foundation for a society that can
promote the healthy and happy development of its members.” They use the irrationality that

prevails in monopoly capitalism as an example to illustrate its degrading nature. Only a few
lucky people can People think that work is enjoyable, and for most ordinary people, work is a
completely unsatisfactory experience. People try to avoid work. Even leisure does not provide
any comfort, because there is no leisure time. (Baran & Sweezy, 1970)

Baran and Sweezy believe that leisure has largely become synonymous with laziness and
cannot satisfy any passion. Popular culture reflects the state of people doing nothing: books, TV
and movies are all passive. The state of enjoyment without the need for active thinking by the
brain. They believe that the purpose of work and leisure is to a large extent combined with
increasing consumption. Consumer goods are no longer used to meet human needs, but become a
symbol of social status However, consumerism will eventually breed dissatisfaction, because
people always hope to replace old products with new products, which will make people maintain
their status in society into a relentless pursuit of unattainable standards. Baran believes that while
meeting the basic needs of survival, “work and consumption are increasingly losing their inner
content and meaning.” (Baran & Sweezy, 1970)

The ubiquity of free market, commercially produced consumption inherently raises the
issue whether it is possible to develop another model of consumption, one that is less controlled
by private interests in profit-orientation and better adapted to public welfare. The main
alternative to capitalist retail was long since consumer cooperatives, the consumer shops
themselves. Consumer cooperation has played a significant role in spawning modern consumer
movements alongside labour unions and the women’s movement. Although the global
phenomenon of consumer cooperation is typically studied in different countries. The result of
this development is an empty and degraded society. Since the possibility of the working class

launching a revolution is very small, the underlying reality is that “the society is becoming more
and more corrupt, and the contradiction between the capitalist system that people are forced to
accept and the basic need of human nature is becoming more and more irreconcilable.” “The
spread of increasingly serious mental disorders.” In the current era of monopoly capitalism, this
contradiction is still prominent. On the one hand, capitalism’s ruthless pursuit of profit, on the
other hand, is the incompatibility between people’s basic needs. (Strikwerda, 2018) For example,
car ads, that kind of aerial photography of a family driving along the mountain road, children
through the skylights raised their hands shouting, and finally came to the lakeside picnic, a laugh,
or smoke machine ads, in the spacious and bright large flat open kitchen, the wife with a plate of
fragrant orchid fried lobster, the career of a handsome husband and a well-behaved lovely son
immediately smiled. In fact, people do not need it necessarily, however, they build a beautiful
dream to people, even consumers cannot afford it, the sellers would provide loans or “parity
substitutions”. As a result, the conditions required to maintain good mental health are severely
damaged, and the monopolistic capitalist society suffers from neurosis and more serious mental
health problems. (Auerbach & Clark, 2016)

From a secular point of view, social activism shows that consumerism materialism comes
from crime (poverty stemming from economic inequality), industrial pollution and the
environmental degradation that comes with it, and war as a business. Pope Benedict XVI said
that materialist philosophy did not provide any justification for human existence regarding social
discontent resulting from discontent and hedonism; Similarly, the writer George W. Bush
“American materialism is a beacon of mediocrity that could overshadow French civilization, “
Duhamel said (Sperber, 2020)

Theories can cure the Status Anxiety

To Marxism’s society, the Utopian Marxism can help all people get away from the status
anxiety. All the utopian communists’ advocate abolishing private ownership, eliminating class
differences, shared work, equal product distribution and social equality. Some of them also
asserted and highlighted the transitional phase and other issues. But they could not get rid of the
fundamental flaws of utopian socialism on some basic questions, so their ideal society cannot be
realized. (Storey,2021)

Anti-consumerism is a socio-political ideology that opposes consumerism and continues
to buy and consume material wealth. Anti-consumerism focuses on the private behaviour of
commercial companies in pursuing fiscal and economic goals at the expense of public welfare,
particularly in the areas of environmental protection, social stratification, and social governance
ethics. On the political front, anti-consumerism overlaps environmentalism, anti-globalisation,
and animal rights activities; In addition, the conceptual change of anti-consumerism is post-
consumerism, which lives in a material way that transcends consumerism. (Sperber, 2020)

Social Work on Status Anxiety

Britain’s mental wellbeing advocacy group, the National Survivor User Network
(NSUN), challenged the traditional medical interpretation in 2017. They thought that the key to
the problem was social justice. People’s mental health could be improved by changing the status
quo of social injustice. Clearly, they condemned neoliberalism, believing that austerity and cuts
to social security had resulted in an increase in mental illness and deteriorating mental health
among the general populace. Consequently, they believe that social inequality is to blame for the

poor mental health of these individuals. ” People have been harmed by tightening measures,
undermining of economic policies, social discrimination, and structural inequality. (NSUN

“We must fight these inequalities for social justice.” “Recovery in the Bin” is a class
struggle mental health action project. A new social model was promoted, one that recognized
capitalism as a major factor in poor mental health. A group representing ethnic minorities,
Kindred Minds, also actively promotes the idea that mental suffering is not the result of
biological characteristics, but rather of social problems, including racism, sexism, and economic
inequity. Hereby, oppression and discrimination are the catalysts for the deterioration of the
mental health of the whole people, and ethnic minorities have suffered greater social and
economic inequality and prejudice. (Recovery in the Bin)


When people are anxiety about the shortage of social resources, status mobility, it is not
shameful to break the dreams that the higher class created for you. Avoiding the status anxiety
need to work through canceling competitions in real life. There is nothing more important than
peaceful and enjoyable lifestyles, people can competed themselves instead of others in the world.


  1. Botton, D. A. (2014). Status anxiety. Penguin.
  2. Storey, J. (2021). Cultural theory and popular culture: An introduction. Routledge.
  3. Baran, P. A., & Sweezy, P. M. (1970). Monopoly capital. Penguin Books.
  4. Sperber, J. (2020). The commodification of Online Cooperation. Monthly Review,
    40–49. https://doi.org/10.14452/mr-072-06-2020-10_4
  5. Auerbach, D., & Clark, B. (2016). The internet and monopoly capitalism. Monthly
    Review, 68(5), 45. https://doi.org/10.14452/mr-068-05-2016-09_4
  6. Recovery in the bin. Recovery in the Bin. (n.d.). https://recoveryinthebin.org/.
  7. NSUN website. (2021). https://www.nsun.org.uk/.
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