The twenty-first century is often perceived as the century of personal freedom. Unlike the economic freedom of the nineteenth century and the political freedom of the twentieth century, this particular brand of freedom is seen as no longer confined to civic realms, political or bureaucratic structures, nor, in fact, interpellative of a particular moral philosophy.1 Instead it is seen as enabling individuals to choose the very standards by which to live their life. A considerably less enthusiastic account of personal freedom and, in particular, of its relation to choice, is given by the psychologist Barry Schwartz and the philosopher Renata Salecl, authors of The Paradox of Choice and The Tyranny of Choice, respectively. For Schwartz, the widespread belief that the way to maximise individual freedom is to maximise choice is an ill-fated impasse. Not only do hundreds of brands of biscuits, broadband providers, and insurance policies have a paralysing rather than a liberating effect on the individual, they furthermore decrease rather than increase satisfaction levels, much like they increase, rather than decrease disappointment levels. The reason for this are mostly ‘opportunity costs’, the fact that the decision to follow path A invariably results in the lost opportunity to follow path B.
|Title of host publication||Žižek and Performance|
|Editors||Broderick Chow, Alex Mangold|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|