'Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof': Understanding the pursuit of happiness as ideology

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In this chapter I will discuss why it is that the prevailing ideology of happiness – not only to academic scholars but also to a wider public – presents itself as a significant problem in contemporary late-modern society. More specifically, I will show how analytically fruitful it is to understand happiness – the potential that people need to pursue and are expected to work hard on to materialize and objectify – as an ideology. I will argue that a significant part of the problem with the current ideology of happiness is not only that it paves the way for an increasing number of mental disorders – because I think there is enough evidence to suggest that it does - but that it’s internalization is presented as an individual endeavour whose successful implementation relies on personal capabilities of controlling socio-structural supported norms and social rules that are in fact uncontainable. As such, the ideology of happiness informs us about important aspects of what it entails to be a human being in a late-modern society of performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Happiness Studies
EditorsNicholas Hill, Svend Brinkmann, Anders Petersen
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9781138304437
ISBN (Electronic)9780203730119
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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