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Revisiting Happiness Economics through a Post-structuralist Lens

Kairis, Zannis; (2018) Revisiting Happiness Economics through a Post-structuralist Lens. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Despite the substantial growth in interest and publications in recent decades, Happiness Economics (henceforth HE) remains a largely problematic scholarly field as is evidenced by the field’s failure to accumulate a considerable corpus of consensual knowledge. To the contrary, methodological approaches abound and conclusions often contradict one another. It is this project’s contention that these mixed results should not be attributed to either simple methodological errors or to the interdisciplinarity of the field, as it has been suggested. Rather, while clear patterns of significant methodological flaws are, indeed, identified, the author makes the case that they are owed to the precarious theoretical framework that underlies HE, something which explains both their ubiquity and persistence. More specifically, the source of problems is traced in flawed assumptions that pertain, on the one hand, to problematic understandings of meaning and subjectivity and, on the other, to epistemology, broadly construed. The former concerns an unwarranted treatment of both meaning and subjectivity as stable, fixed, and universal, while the latter refers to an ill-conceived positivist framework that is not fit for purpose. Through a categorisation and analysis of the literature, post-structuralism emerges as a uniquely positioned theoretical toolbox to illuminate these difficulties and to clear the ground for a HE that addresses them effectively. In addition, the author proposes neo-pragmatism as the appropriate theoretical backdrop for any future HE projects. It is illustrated that not only is neo-pragmatism congruent with the post-structuralist critique levelled against HE but it also avoids the pitfalls of epistemic nihilism by embracing the sociological character of meaning and knowledge as well as its entailed contingencies. Finally, this project considers the general methodological implications of this intervention, how the quality of already existing literature may be improved, and explores a small number of broad policy implications.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Revisiting Happiness Economics through a Post-structuralist Lens
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2018. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10062481
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