Well-being and consumer culture: a different kind of public health problem?

Carlisle, S. and Hanlon, P. (2007) Well-being and consumer culture: a different kind of public health problem? Health Promotion International, 22(3), pp. 261-268. (doi: 10.1093/heapro/dam022)



Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dam022


The concept of well-being is now of interest to many disciplines;as a consequence, it presents an increasingly complex and contested territory. We suggest that much current thinking about well-being can be summarized in terms of four main discourses: scientific, popular, critical and environmental. Exponents of the scientific discourse argue that subjective well-being is now static or declining in developed countries: a paradox for economists, as incomes have grown considerably. Psychological observations on the loss of subjective well-being have also entered popular awareness, in simplified form, and conceptions of well-being as happiness are now influencing contemporary political debate and policy-making. These views have not escaped criticism. Philosophers understand well-being as part of a flourishing human life, not just happiness. Some social theorists critique the export of specific cultural concepts of well-being as human universals. Others view well-being as a potentially divisive construct that may contribute to maintaining social inequalities. Environmentalists argue that socio-cultural patterns of over-consumption, within the neo-liberal economies of developed societies, present an impending ecological threat to individual, social and global wellbeing. As the four discourses carry different implications for action, we conclude by considering their varied utility and applicability for health promotion.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:well-being; consumer culture; public health
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanlon, Professor Philip and Carlisle, Dr Sandra
Authors: Carlisle, S., and Hanlon, P.
Subjects:R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Research Group:Public Health & Health Policy
Journal Name:Health Promotion International
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2007 Oxford University Press
First Published:First published in Health Promotion International 22(3):261-268
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with permission of the author

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