Monday, April 25, 2005

Beware the Promise of Choice

I've been reading Lost Icons (2000) by Rowan Williams and the first chapter is concerned with childhood and choice and argues that as society we are given wider and wider choice, but are disabled from knowing how to make good choices. He wants "... to demythologise the goodness of choice" (47). This is hard-hitting in an election where all the main parties are promising to give us more and more choice. Political language here of 'choice' masks the reality that more choice for some, means less choice for others. The illusion of choice without limits is nothing more than a blantant lie. With more and more choice comes less and less freedom, especially when we are unable or disabled from ability to know how to make moral choices.

The language of "choice" goes with the language of "rights" and "consumption", there is no room or at least no articulation of "responsibilities" and "duties".

Regarding advertising he says: "all advertising tends to treat its public as children - tends, that is, to suggest that decisions can be made without cost or risk" (23)

Instead he believes we need to recognise that "real choice both expresses and curtails freedom - or rather it leads us further and further away from a picture of choice that presupposes a blank will looking out at a bundle of options like goods on a supermarket shelf" (32)

And that adult choices, are "adult" because they are choices with recognised consequences: "... adult choice implies a recognition that such a choice is weighty, potentially tragic, bound up with unseen futures for the agent and others agents" (47)

(Comments please, especially from the shy people who have not yet commented. If you're always making comments hold back at lets others have a chance first.)

1 comment:

steveg said...

its funny to think we have been sold the idea that choice is best. however, in practice, people are far more happy to be led into particular modes of action and behaviours, rather than question that behaviour. It takes so much effort to think for oneself, and far easier to trust those 'wiser' than we. So possibly despite superficially we have more choice available to us, we have given up choosing for ourselves, but rather to follow the most popular choice/the easy chioce.