The complex territory of well-being: contestable evidence, contentious theories and speculative conclusions

Carlisle, S. and Hanlon, P. (2007) The complex territory of well-being: contestable evidence, contentious theories and speculative conclusions. Journal of Public Mental Health, 6(2), pp. 8-13.




This paper brings together evidence and theories from a number of disciplines and thinkers that highlight multiple, sometimes conflicting understandings about well-being.We identify three broad strands or themes within the literature(s) that frame both the nature of the problem and its potential solutions in different ways. The first strand can be categorised as the "hard" science of well-being and its stagnation or decline in modern western society. In a second strand, social and political theory suggests that conceptualisations of well-being are shaped by aspects of western culture, often in line with the demands of a capitalist economic system.A third theme pursues the critique of consumer culture's influence on well-being but in the context of broader human problems.This approach draws on ecology, ethics, philosophy and much else to suggest that we urgently need to reconsider what it means to be human, if we are to survive and thrive. Although no uncontroversial solutions are found within any of these themes, all play a necessary part in contributing to knowledge of this complex territory, where assumptions about the nature of the human condition come into question.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:science of wellbeing; consumer culture; capitalism; positive psychology; individualism
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanlon, Professor Philip and Carlisle, Dr Sandra
Authors: Carlisle, S., and Hanlon, P.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Research Group:Public Health & Health Policy
Journal Name:Journal of Public Mental Health
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2007 Pavilion Publishing
First Published:First published in Journal of Public Mental Health 6(2):8-13
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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