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Subjective well-being: a Ukrainian case study

Noble, O.; (2009) Subjective well-being: a Ukrainian case study. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

In this thesis we revisit the recent and ongoing debates regarding dimensions of well-being, with particular emphasis on the complex relationship between aspects of the Capability Approach (CA) and measures emerging from the growing band of happiness studies. In doing so, we draw on literature from psychology, happiness studies, development studies, economics and sociology. We develop a conceptual model predicated on the argument that happiness is not synonymous with well-being, but is instead one important aspect of it. We develop a methodology suitable for exploring this model and test it empirically through a small-scale survey conducted in Kyiv, Ukraine. Our empirical investigation is based upon a necessary mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches, reflecting fully the interdisciplinary nature of the enquiry and subtle enough to capture the regional specificities which we argue are instrumental in determining well-being. Kyiv is an important case study, since it lies at the heart of one of the major post-communist transition economies, while as yet remaining outside of the European Union. The literature suggests that such countries are particularly ‘unhappy’, and our approach sheds light on this stylised empirical observation. Our survey provides data on wide-ranging aspects of well-being, including relationships, health, income, control, environment and trust. A carefully selected cohort of the original respondents was subsequently interviewed in-depth to explore the narratives around their own understanding of well-being in the context of our conceptual framework. We find that using a mixed methodology highlights the potential pitfalls of using surveys alone to try and capture concepts as complex as well-being, as well as suggesting that such investigations should take into account the specific context in which they are taking place. Our empirical approach also helps us to shed some light on why it is that Ukraine has tended to fare poorly in previous happiness studies.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Subjective well-being: a Ukrainian case study
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies)

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