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

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Abstract

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
PublisherRoutledge
Publication date2020
Pages35-47
Chapter2
ISBN (Print)9781138304437
ISBN (Electronic)9780203730119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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