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.

chapter |19 pages

Critical happiness studies

An invitation
ByNicholas Hill, Svend Brinkmann, Anders Petersen

part I|43 pages

Fantastical happiness

chapter 1|12 pages

Happiness, a moralistic fantasy

ByCarl Cederström

chapter 2|13 pages

‘Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof’

Understanding the pursuit of happiness as ideology
ByAnders Petersen

chapter 3|16 pages

‘The sickness unto health’

Self-reification, self-love, and the critique of happiness in contemporary life 1
ByAlastair Morgan

part II|63 pages

The political and social effects of happiness

chapter 4|16 pages

Hijacking the language of functionality?

In praise of ‘negative’ emotions against happiness
ByEdgar Cabanas, Eva Illouz

chapter 5|15 pages

Happiness and the new politicization of subjectivity

ByGrant Duncan

chapter 6|12 pages


A societal 'imperative'?
ByLaura Hyman

chapter 7|18 pages

'It's the soul that needs the surgery'?

The social life of (un)happiness
ByNicholas Hill

part III|64 pages

Resources for critical happiness studies

chapter 8|13 pages

Living well and living right

Aesthetic and ethical dimensions of happiness
BySvend Brinkmann

chapter 10|15 pages

Drowning in liquidity

Zygmunt Bauman on happiness, ambivalence, and security
ByJordan McKenzie

chapter 11|16 pages

Complicating the happy cure

Psychoanalysis and the ends of analysis
ByColin Wright