CHOICES: Never-Ending Dilemmas in Everyday Life

by Arthur Asa Berger (San Francisco State University)

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Arthur Asa Berger has done it again. He has written a book that is a philosophical treatise in ontology, a semiotic analysis of the objects and events of everyday life, and a practical guide to the meaning and logic of our unconscious activities, seamlessly uniting all these threads into a masterpiece of purveyance of life’s meaning. And he does all this in user-friendly language, explaining and practically illustrating profound ideas from philosophy, semiotics, and cultural analysis in an enjoyable way, as well as critiquing them when they need to be critiqued, making the book truly a great “read.”

Marcel Danesi
Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
University of Toronto

Drawing from influential theories like semiotics, this invaluable book delves into the power and mechanism of choices we make. It offers practical insights into decision-making, shedding light on the pivotal role of choice in our society, culture, and personal lives, where some choices we make shape our destinies.

Dr. Yoshiko Okuyama
Professor, Japanese
Department of Languages
University of Hawaii at Hilo

Professor Berger has an excellent knowledge of the most important studies in this field and uses them extensively in his book.
He explores the phenomenon of "choice" from different perspectives -semiotic, psychoanalytic, sociological, political, etc. [and] analyses these standpoints with numerous concrete examples.
The style of the book is quite attractive. Professor Berger adheres to readability requirements and writes with a wonderful sense of humour.
[He] is also an inspired cartoonist who illustrated the book with many cartoons. This is also good with regard to the book's attractiveness and readability.
[He] has also written a glossary of key terms relating to the main topics of the book.
[...] the book is a serious scientific achievement [and] very readable [...]

Dr. Christo Kaftandjiev
Professor, Faculty of Journalism
Sofia University, Bulgaria

This book is about the never-ending need we have to make choices. If you think about it, we have to decide what time to wake up every morning, what to wear (unless we need to wear a uniform), what to have for breakfast (if we eat breakfast), lunch and dinner (and if we eat in restaurants, what to order), and our need to make all kinds of other choices all day long.

Some of our choices are mundane, like what to have for breakfast (if we eat breakfast): to have coffee or tea (and if so, plain or with milk), cereal, toast or a bagel (and if so, what kind: plain, with poppy seeds, with everything) or a sweet roll, eggs (if so, fried, soft boiled, scrambled), and so on. Most of the choices we make are not important, and we often develop habits to relieve us of having to think about our choices.

For example, I have the same thing for breakfast every day: a bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds and flax seeds, hot milk, a cup of espresso coffee with hot milk, and half a bagel with butter. Occasionally, I have a soft-boiled egg, as well.

But other choices we have to make are life-changing, such as how to live (single, living with a partner, or getting married), what kind of education to get, what kind of job or profession to choose, where to live and what kind of house to buy (if you can afford a house), whom to vote for, and so on. After reading this book, you will better understand the role that the choices we make play in society and culture and in our everyday lives.

Foreword - Bob Batchelor
List of Illustrations
List of Tables


Chapter 1 The Social-Anthropology of Choice
Chapter 2 Marxism and Choices
Chapter 3 Espresso Machine Aficionados: A Case Study
Chapter 4 The Sociology of Choice
Chapter 5 The Semiotics of Choice
Chapter 6 Choice and the Psyche


Chapter 7 Choosing a Partner
Chapter 8 Work
Chapter 9 Housing
Chapter 10 Ocean Cruising Tourism
Chapter 11 Gender Choice
Chapter 12 Coda

About the Author
Index of Names
Index of Topics

Arthur Asa Berger is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and more than 70 books on media, popular culture, semiotics and humour. He has written numerous articles on humour which have been published in journals in America and other countries, together with several books on the same subject including: 'Li’L Abner: A Study in American Satire' (his PhD dissertation); 'An Anatomy of Humor'; 'The Art of Comedy Writing'; 'Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor'; 'The Genius of the Jewish Joke'; and 'Jewish Jester'.

He taught Comedy Writing and Sitcom Writing in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department at San Francisco State University for a number of years. Arthur was also elected into the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Communication Hall of Fame. His teaching career spans continents; from teaching at the University of Milan, by way of a Fulbright to Italy in 1963, to later teaching as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Argentina and Belarus. In addition, he has also lectured in countries such as Iran, France, Germany, Vietnam and China, to name a few. In line with this, many of his books have been translated into nine languages including Chinese and Turkish.

Choices, Everyday Life, Consumers, Semiotics, Psychoanalytic Theory

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

CHOICES: Never-Ending Dilemmas in Everyday Life





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


38 B&W

Publication date

January 2024