Critical Happiness Studies: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Critical Happiness Studies

1st Edition

Edited by Nicholas Hill, Svend Brinkmann, Anders Petersen


328 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138304437
pub: 2019-12-20
SAVE ~$31.00
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 20th December 2019

FREE Standard Shipping!


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 conceptualisations 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 might be served by the framing of happiness within psychology and economics. With attention to the ways in which individuals understand and pursue happiness within their daily lives, Critical Happiness Studies highlights different theoretical paradigms that demonstrate the role of power in producing specific conceptualisations of happiness and, consequently, how they frame individual self-understanding or subjectivities, and (re)shape political problems. The collection makes available a set of critical resources for addressing the development of 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 1: Fantastical Happiness: An Impossible Ideal

1. Happiness, A Moralistic Fantasy

Carl Cederström

2. "Clap Along if you feel like a Room without a Roof": Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness as Ideology

Anders Petersen

3. "The Sickness unto Health": Self-Reification, Self-Love and the Critique of Happiness in Contemporary Life

Alastair Morgan

Part 2: 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

Grant Duncan

6. Happiness: A Societal "Imperative"?

Laura Hyman

7. "It’s the Soul that Needs the Surgery"? The Social Life of (Un)Happiness

Nicholas Hill

Part 3: Resources for Critical Happiness Studies

8. Living Well and Living Right: Aesthetic and Ethical Dimensions of Happiness

Svend Brinkmann

9. Sociology, Biographical Research and the Development of Critical Happiness Studies

Mark Cieslik

10. Drowning in Liquidity: Zygmunt Bauman on Happiness, Ambivalence and Security

Jordan Mckenzie

11. Complicating the Happy Cure: Psychoanalysis and the Ends of Analysis

Colin Wright

About the Editors

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 lived experiences of health and illness, particularly mental health.

Svend Brinkmann is Professor of Psychology and Qualitative Methods and Co-director 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 co-author of InterViews (Third Edition): Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing.

Anders Petersen is Associate Professor of Sociology at Aalborg University, Denmark and co-editor of Imaginative Methodologies: Creativity, Poetics and Rhetoric in Social Research, The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization andLate Modern Subjectivity and its Discontents: Anxiety, Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General