Happiness as Enterprise: An Essay on Neoliberal Life (2014)

Foucault News

binkley Sam Binkley, Happiness as Enterprise: An Essay on Neoliberal Life, SUNY Press, 2014.

Publisher’s page

Summary
Examines the contemporary discourse on happiness through the lens of governmentality theory.

Recent decades have seen an explosion of interest in the phenomenon of happiness, as evidenced by self-help books, talk shows, spiritual mentoring, business management, and relationship counseling. At the center of this development is the expanding influence of “positive psychology,” which places the concern with happiness in a new position of professional respectability, while opening it to institutional applications. In settings as diverse as college education, business, military training, family, and financial planning, happiness has appeared as the object of a new technology of emotional self-optimization. As such, happiness has come to define a new mentality of self-government—or a “governmentality” as the concept is developed in the work of Michel Foucault—one that Sam Binkley demonstrates is aligned closely with economic neoliberalism.

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