The development of happiness as an explicit theme in social research and policy worldwide has been rapid and remarkable, posing fundamental questions about our personal and collective motives and purposes.
This book examines the achievements and potential of applied happiness scholarship in diverse cultures and domains. It argues that progressive policies require a substantial and explicit consideration of happiness. Part one introduces the development of happiness themes in scholarship, policy and moral discourse. Part two explores the interplay between happiness scholarship and a wide variety of domains of social experience, including relationship guidance, managing social aspirations, parenting, schooling, gender reform, work-life harmonizing, marketing and consumption and rethinking old age.
This exciting new text will appeal to policy makers, social organizers and community development practitioners, especially those interested in well-being related policy innovation and social entrepreneurship. It will also be of interest to academics embedded in policy practice.
"At once highly provocative yet humane and wise, this fascinating book greatly enriches the contemporary discussion of happiness, bringing Neil Thin's vast knowledge of the social sciences to bear on what he shows to be a profoundly social phenomenon." Dan Haybron, Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
"There is good reason to recommend Social Happiness, not least for bringing some badly needed focus to the topic of social well-being rather than the more familiar discourse about well-being derived through individual choice, but also for the originality of the review and for highlighting key issues facing contemporary social policy." Journal of Social Policy
"The literature on human happiness extends to many fields, and Neil Thin seems to know them all. This is a superb synthesis by an expert who isn’t afraid to smile." Darrin M. McMahon, Ben Weider Professor of History, Florida State University
"Neil Thin has brilliantly synthesised an encyclopaedic range of theories, stories and applications using the happiness lens. His central point, that happiness is 'essentially intersubjective and social', is demonstrated with a rich breadth of thought, evidence and examples." John F. Helliwell, Co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Program on Social Interactions, Identity and Well-being, University of British Columbia
Neil Thin is Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author of several books on poverty, social development, happiness, education and participatory forestry. Since 1987 he has been lecturing and conducting applied research on social planning and sustainable development, and, since 2003, on happiness.
Preface: On happiness, rationality, and empathy in scholarship and policy; Part one: Happiness in policy discourse and research; Introduction: prosperity debates and the happiness lens; What really matters: concepts, evaluations and objections; Effects of happiness (and unhappiness); Thinking ourselves happy: on the policy relevance of both subjectivity and objectivity; Who makes happiness happen? On positive deviance, emotion work, and psychosocial contagion; Governance and responsibility: towards the eudaimonic state?; Assessing happiness: measurement and beyond; Correlations and causal theories; Part Two: Social happiness in policy and practice; Love: fighting philophobia around the world; The shape of good hope: Cultivating reasonable aspirations; Positive parenting and cheerful childlessness; Schooling for joy; New gender agendas: feel-good feminism for fun and fulfilment; Working for happiness, happily working, and work-life harmony; Shopping for happiness: corporate happwash and consumption ethics; Geronto-eudaimonics: late-life thriving for all; Conclusions: review and prospects.