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Summary

What drives our political and moral beliefs? What makes us like some things and dislike others? What shapes how we behave, and misbehave, in a group? What makes you, you

For centuries, philosophers and scholars have described human behaviour in terms of sex, power and money. In The Status Game, best-selling author Will Storr radically turns this thinking on its head by arguing that it is our irrepressible craving for status that ultimately defines who we are.

From the era of the hunter-gatherer to today, when we exist as workers in the globalised economy and citizens of online worlds, the need for status has been wired into us. A wealth of research shows that how much of it we possess dramatically affects not only our happiness and wellbeing but also our physical health—and without sufficient status, we become more ill, and live shorter lives. It’s an unconscious obsession that drives the best and worst of us: our innovation, arts and civilisation as well as our murders, wars and genocides. But why is status such an all-consuming prize? What happens if it’s taken away from us? And how can our unquenchable thirst for it explain cults, moral panics, conspiracy theories, the rise of social media and the ‘culture wars’ of today?

On a breathtaking journey through time and culture, The Status Game offers a sweeping rethink of human psychology that will change how you see others—and how you see yourself.

©2021 Will Storr (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"I haven’t finished reading The Status Game because I’ve only read it once. There's so much in this dazzling book I will be revisiting over and over again." (Daniel Finkelstein, author of Everything in Moderation)

"The Status Game could not be more timely and provides a missing piece for understanding where we are, and how to get out of this mess.... I can’t recommend it highly enough." (Greg Lukianoff, co-author with Jonathan Haidt of The Coddling of the American Mind)

"Thought provoking and enlightening—you’ll be discussing The Status Game everywhere you go." (Sara Pascoe)

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Oversimplified conclusions to fit the status narrative

The case studies were very interesting; albeit, that the narrator seemed intent on applying status to all parts of social interaction. While it can be observed how crucial status is to our perception of self, I think the writer goes a step further than most to say it was what governs our society. The arguments are stretched and other auxiliary factors not given proper credence (culture, religion, sustenance etc).

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Fascinating!

An eye opening book that really puts life into perspective. Well worth a read / listen!

2 people found this helpful

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The unchangeable human condition, explained

Storr compellingly tells our truth, "we are in the 21st century as we've always been, great apes hunting connection and status inside shared hallucinations." In his own voice he synthesizes evo psych, behavioral psych, political economies, organized religion, and social media to fashion a necessary lense with which we can better understand our shared delusion.

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Exceptionally enlightening

An excellently written and narrated account of what makes us behave the way we do! Reasserts a certain degree of faith in humanity when wokeness, nationalism and bigotry looked to have gotten the better of us. Excellent!

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Great, now I’m obsessed with status.

The idea that we are all tribal creatures that constantly go about obsessed with our status is ingenious. Great book. Thanks Will Storr.

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The most important book of 2021

Will has done an incredible job of weaving a narrative that makes sense of the divided world we are confronted with in 2021. Utterly brilliant!

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Both fascinating and daunting

Both fascinating and daunting. The fact that most of our social behaviours can be rooted to such a simple concept is truly frightening and disappointing to an extent.

However, the book is fascinating and superbly written.

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Game changer

This really helped me clarify a few things and spot behaviours. I’ve spoken about it weekly ever since I listened.
Great audio production too. Well done.

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Very insightful

I think that the view of status games is a good way to frame a thought I've had about human interaction. This book captures that very well. As long as there are people there will always be delineation between them and status drawn from them. We should manage that as best we can and make progress

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Since you are already "in the game"...

Not everything we do...we are aware of the fact we are doing it.
The "Status Game" is a case in point.
I work on the principle it's always better to know than not...
What silly little creatures we are...
An education to say the least...eye-opening I would go as far as.
You will never again see the world from quite the same perspective.
A must...

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  • raluca mitarca
  • 15-05-22

Best book I've listened to this year

Narrator? Perfect. Content? Enlightening. A gripping tale of how society and humans work, and it's a great way of making sense of the world. I truly recommend it.