This volume draws together the work of a diverse range of thinkers and researchers to address the question of happiness critically, using a wide variety of theoretical and empirical methodologies. Broadening the discussion beyond what might be considered highly individual and insular conceptualizations of happiness, often based on purely positivist approaches to the subject, authors raise questions about the nature of individual and collective anxieties that might underpin the current emphasis on happiness and the ideological or governmental ends that may be served by the framing of happiness in psychology and economics. With attention to how individuals understand and pursue happiness in their daily lives, Critical Happiness Studies highlights different theoretical paradigms that demonstrate the role of power in producing specific conceptualizations of happiness and, consequently, how they frame individual self-understanding or subjectivities and (re)shape political problems. The collection makes available critical, theoretical, and methodological resources for addressing a powerful set of cultural, political, and scientific discourses that have loomed large since the closing decade of the 20th century. A call for the establishment of a body of work in critical happiness studies, this book will appeal to scholars across the social sciences and humanities interested in the age-old problem of happiness.
Table of Contents
Critical happiness studies: an invitation
NICHOLAS HILL, SVEND BRINKMANN AND ANDERS PETERSEN
PART I Fantastical happiness: an impossible ideal
1 Happiness, a moralistic fantasy
2 ‘Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof’: understanding the pursuit of happiness as ideology
3 ‘The sickness unto health’: self-reification, self-love, and the critique of happiness in contemporary life
PART II The political and social effects of happiness
4 Hijacking the language of functionality? In praise of ‘negative’ emotions against happiness
EDGAR CABANAS AND EVA ILLOUZ
5 Happiness and the new politicization of subjectivity
6 Happiness: a societal ‘imperative’?
7 ‘It’s the soul that needs the surgery’? The social life of (un)happiness
PART III Resources for critical happiness studies
8 Living well and living right: aesthetic and ethical dimensions of happiness
9 Sociology, biographical research, and the development of critical happiness studies
10 Drowning in liquidity: Zygmunt Bauman on happiness, ambivalence, and security
11 Complicating the happy cure: psychoanalysis and the ends of analysis
Nicholas Hill is an early career researcher located at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. His PhD thesis examined the intersection of happiness and suffering in contemporary life. His wider research focuses on emotions and contemporary life, therapeutic and self-help culture, and experiences of health and illness, particularly mental health.
Svend Brinkmann is professor of psychology and qualitative methods and codirector of the Center for Qualitative Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark. He is the author of Qualitative Inquiry in Everyday Life, Qualitative Interviewing and Psychology as a Moral Science, and Diagnostic Cultures and the coauthor of InterViews (Third Edition): Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing.
Anders Petersen is associate professor of sociology at Aalborg University, Denmark and coeditor of Imaginative Methodologies: Creativity, Poetics and Rhetoric in Social Research, The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization and Late Modern Subjectivity and Its Discontents: Anxiety, Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.