In this sweeping and provocative work, political economist William Davies draws on a four-hundred-year history of ideas to reframe our understanding of the contemporary world. He argues that global trends decades and even centuries in the making have reduced a world of logic and fact into one driven by emotions--particularly fear and anxiety. This has ushered in an age of "nervous states," both in our individual bodies and our body politic.
Informed by research on psychology and economics, Davies reveals how widespread feelings of fear, vulnerability, physical and psychological pain, and growing inequality reshaped our politics, upending these centuries-old ideals of how we understand the world and organize society. Yet Davies suggests that the rise of emotion may open new possibilities for confronting humanity's greatest challenges. Ambitious and compelling, Nervous States is a perceptive and enduring account of our turbulent times.
William Davies is a political economist at Goldsmiths, University of London, the author of Nervous States and The Happiness Industry, among other books, and a contributor to publications including the Atlantic and the New York Times. He lives in London.
Max Read is a senior editor at New York magazine, where he edits Select All, a website covering the intersection of technology and culture. He was previously editor in chief at Gawker, and is a founder of IRL Club, an evening of talks by cool people from the internet.