Excerpted from chronicle.com:

Consumers, as Sunstein’s utopia makes clear, with no need for a public. In decades to come, Sunstein writes, the choice architect "might draw on available information about people’s own past choices or about which approach best suits different groups of people, and potentially each person, in the population." So finely tuned to each of our needs will this future choice architect be that "personalized paternalism is likely to become increasingly feasible over time." Whatever libertarian slippage may be occasioned by the current state of choice architecture — where some serendipity of desire is eclipsed or ignored by the crude technology of the day — will be overcome in the future. Assured by the detailed knowledge the choice architect will have about each of us, each of us will be happily corrected in our choices. We will know that these are truly our choices, inspired by our ends, uncontaminated by anyone else. What we are witnesses to here is not a public being summoned but a public being dismissed.

The bolded sentence above is strange to me, as it generally equals to Consumers with no need for a public, but then there is no verb or any sentence structure there, it consists of a noun only and then ended.

How can a sentence be constructed as such? Isn't it considered a bad writing? I think it better writes "Consumers, as Sunstein's utopia makes clear, are with no need for a public".

  • To be clear: is this bolded in the original text? Is it offset in any way at the beginning of the paragraph? Edit: I saw the link, it isn't, and I'm about to make an answer. Edit 2: Damien got it. Jan 28, 2016 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


It does read a little oddly, doesn't it? I did a double take myself when I read through the sentence in the article, and I already knew it was coming.

However, it makes sense when read with the previous paragraph, particularly the last sentence:

For the polity Sunstein would like to bring into being looks like the polity that already exists. Its setting is the regulatory state and capitalist economy we already have. Its ideology is the market fundamentalism we already pay obeisance to: "a respect for competition," Sunstein stipulates, "is central to behaviorally informed regulation." And its actors are the consumers we already are.

This appears to be an attempt to perform a 'dramatic pause' - where a speaker maintains silence for a few seconds before saying or finishing a line to create suspense. Unfortunately for the author, this didn't translate very well to his article, because he started a new paragraph midway through. Instead, it just comes across as a jarring shift of topic.

To get the effect he intended, try reading it aloud like this:

And its actors are the consumers we already are...consumers, as Sunstein’s utopia makes clear, with no need for a public.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .