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Title: Happy and you know it? : a cultural exploration of people's experiences and perceptions of happiness
Author: Hyman, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0000 7219 4028
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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Happiness, rather than being a private, internal and subjective experience, is shaped, interpreted and articulated via culturally specific ways of thinking, being and acting. When producing accounts of happiness, people commonly situate themselves within a range of dominant discourses; it is in doing so that a shared sense of what happiness 'is' is created. This empirical study - through the analysis of the accounts of the experiences and perceptions of happiness of twenty-six British adults - explores the way in which discourses are used in this way, and furthermore, the way in which such an understanding of the use of discourse can assist in interrogating some of the determinants of happiness that are championed by proponents of social scientific work on the measurement of happiness. People position themselves in a range of dominant discourses. One set characterises happiness as asocial, that is, as something biological, 'natural' or resistant to wider social changes across time and space. Another set of discourses characterise happiness as being located within a complex normative framework in which there exists cultural guidelines on the way in which happiness ought to be displayed and experienced. The display of an 'appropriate' level of happiness entails a negotiation of two opposing norms that prescribe the undesirability of both persistent happiness and persistent unhappiness. Therapeutic discourse, which is one of the most widely used discourses in the production of accounts of happiness, characterises it as something individualised, internal and self-orientated. Selfknowledge and self-care are regarded here as two of the most important routes to happiness. Interpersonal relationships, financial situation and working life - as well as being three of the most 'important' determinants of happiness postulated by the aforementioned scholars of the measurement of happiness - are made sense of via all of these discourses. It is in this way that the role that each of these factors play in the experience of happiness may not be as linear or as straightforward as economists postulate.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available