Psychocapital and Shangri-Las: How happiness became both a means and end to governmentality

F. Mckay


In this paper a paradox is revealed in the politics of well-being over the means and ends of happiness. That paradox, in brief, is that although happiness is argued to be the ultimate end of all governmentality, in order to serve as that end, it first needs to be translated into a means for bolstering the economy, for only that way can a teleology of happiness gain a foothold in a world which prioritizes economic growth as an end in itself. To show this the paper gives a history of subjective well-being (SWB) research, and contrasts it with the politics of happiness in the UK, where SWB has in the past decade been translated into a discourse around the psychological wealth of the nation via the concepts of mental capital (MC) and mental well-being (MWB).


subjective well-being; SWB; happiness; economics

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