Renata Salecl: The Paradox of Choice

With freedom come choices. Every choice is an opportunity to select the best possible outcome, the one that would make us happiest. More choices lead to more happiness, right? Of course we find the opposite to be true. As choices increase, so does anxiety. In the latest installment of the RSA animated lecture series, Slovenian social and legal theorist Renata Salecl argues that this anxiety, coupled with the capitalist ideal of the self-made person, leads to a kind of social paralysis. “Today’s ideology of choice,” says Salecl, “actually pacifies people and makes us constantly turn criticism to ourselves instead of organizing ourselves and making a critique of the society we live in.” The animated feature was adapted from a lecture Salecl gave last summer in London. (You can watch the entire lecture here.) It draws on ideas presented in her book, Choice.

Other RSA Videos:

Sir Ken Robinson: A Creative Education

Good Capitalist Karma: Zizek Animated

Smile or Die: The Perils of Positive Psychology

Steven Pinker: How Innuendo Makes Things Work


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  1. Stacy Conaway says . . . | June 22, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    This sounds exactly like Barry Schwartz’ “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”.

    His TED Talk is here:

    Amazon link to his book:

  2. Dave P. says . . . | June 24, 2011 / 11:09 am

    The popularity of recommendation services (such as iTunes’ “Genius” feature) goes a long way to lend credence to the theory that less is more when it comes to choice.

  3. Jim Limbach says . . . | August 2, 2011 / 7:55 pm

    I can attest that long term meditation dissolves self doubt and fear. A great 20th Century mystic once encapsulated much of this video’s wisdom when he said that there are two ways to ensure your downfall: 1) exaggerating your own importance 2) chasing after the good opinion of others.

    Confidence and fearlessness are essential to a successful life. Success is not dependent on social position.

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