A critical analysis of happiness and well-being. Where we stand now, where we need to go


This paper aims to critically analyse happiness and well-being to find novel ways for theorizing and promoting better life conditions for individuals and societies. The necessity to shift from a subjective view of individual well-being to a more social and contextual version of these constructs is the common thread running throughout the whole work. To this end, the first part introduces the reader into the complexity of the happiness and well-being scholarship by outlining some of the most relevant approaches developed by the psychological and economic literature. After highlighting the limitations of both disciplines, the second part of the paper presents some alternative models, namely the Feminist Economics, the Capabilities Approach, and the model of Four Qualities of Life. In addition to these, we will draw attention, in the last section, to the Critical Community Psychology approach to happiness and well-being. Our main argument is that this emerging discipline bears the potential to frame the pursuit of the good life in a whole new fashion that takes into account a) contextual features, in particular the recourses that a given environment offers and the opportunity to access them, b) the role of power, justice, and liberation, and c) the value of participation, reciprocity, and ethics of care. Current limitations of CCP are also discussed and future directions outlined.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v2i1p6

Keywords: social happiness, social well-being, economics of happiness, critical community psychology, capabilities approach, social justice


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