The Happiness Industry

The Happiness Industry:How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being

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Why are we so interested in measuring happiness?

What was a Buddhist monk doing at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos lecturing the world’s leaders on mindfulness? Why do many successful corporations have a ‘chief happiness officer’? What can the chemical composition of your brain tell a potential employer about you? In the past decade, governments and corporations have become increasingly interested in measuring the way people feel: ‘the Happiness index’, ‘Gross National Happiness’, ‘well-being’ and positive psychology have come to dominate the way we live our lives. As a result, our emotions have become a new resource to be bought and sold.
In a fascinating investigation combining history, science and ideas, William Davies shows how well-being influences all aspects of our lives: business, finance, marketing and smart technology. This book will make you rethink everything from the way you work, the power of the ‘Nudge’, the ever-expanding definitions of depression, and the commercialization of your most private feelings. The Happiness Industry is a shocking and brilliantly argued warning about the new religion of the age: our emotions.

Reviews

  • Deeply researched and pithily argued, Davies’s work is a welcome corrective to the glut of semi-scientific happiness books that have become so popular in business and management circles, and which rarely, if ever, acknowledge the larger ideological goals of workplace well-being.

    New York Magazine
  • When the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham suggested that maximising happiness was the job of government, he inspired a quest to measure happiness that continues today. Until recently, the only effective tool for that—as the political scientist Will Davies explains in a forceful new book, The Happiness Industry—has been money.

    Observer
  • As Davies implies in this readable, disturbing book, being depressed by the human condition will no longer be socially acceptable, or even an option. The state or big business will soon see to it!

    Vicki PryceIndependent