Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Too Much or Too Little Choice? Insecurity of Choice among Australian Adults

Dr John D. Bellamy, Sue King, Prof Alan Black, Dr Philip J. Hughes.

Insecurity has always existed in the lives of all people to greater or lesser degree. War, disease and the forces of nature have meant greater insecurity in terms of personal safety, food, and shelter. In modern cities insecurity can come in the form of having too little choice. People without sufficient money or employment often have fewer choices or lesser control over their lives.

It can also be argued that in contemporary urban life, insecurity can arise from having too many choices to make. People in the West are no longer simply accepting the cultural traditions handed down to them but are creating their own lives reflexively. They are making decisions about almost all aspects of life; as a result life seems more complex than it ever was. These choices create their own form of insecurity.

This paper compares and contrasts the origins and consequences of these two different forms of insecurity arising from having too little choice and too much choice. Analysis is carried out of the responses 1500 Australian adults to a recent social survey on the topics of insecurity, well-being and spirituality. Scales have been developed to measure the different kinds of insecurity. The paper will also show how different kinds of people are affected by each form of insecurity. The paper makes a contribution to the growing social exclusion literature by showing the relationship between various measures of objective well-being and these two forms of insecurity.


Dr John D. Bellamy  (Australia)
NCLS Research
Anglicare (Sydney)

John Bellamy is a senior researcher with NCLS Research and was involved in developing the 1991, 1996 and 2001 National Church Life Surveys. He is a joint author of several books on religion and church life in Australia, as well as articles on social capital. He is a research associate of Edith Cowan University Centre for Social Research.

Sue King  (Australia)

Anglicare (Sydney)

Prof Alan Black  (Australia)
Professor of Sociology

Edith Cowan University

Dr Philip J. Hughes  (Australia)

  • Insecurity
  • Too Little Choice
  • Too Much Choice
  • Well-being
  • Survey
  • Australians

(Virtual Presentation, English)