Join us for the Ethical Inquiry lecture Happiness is Not for Sale, But You Are: How the Market Economy Structures the Pursuit of Happiness by Benjamin Radcliff, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame on October 28th from 4PM to 6PM in Smith Buonanno Hall, Room 106.

Abstract: Our understanding of happiness must be grounded in our understanding of the market economy. A central aspect of capitalism is the "commodification" of labor and thus the commodification of persons themselves. The material and psychological burden of being "reduced to commodities" compels citizens to attempt to introduce countervailing forces in society that limit the extent of commodification. Across countries, and across the American States, data suggest that the single most important determinant of well-being is indeed the level of decommodification (as expressed through the social safety net, labor unions, and pro-worker labor market protections, such as the minimum wage). The magnitude of the relationship between decommodification and happiness dwarfs conventional individual-level factors, such as marital status or unemployment.

His work analyzes political outcomes and quality of life for citizens of democracies, primarily in the United States. This research is particularly focused on electoral politics, public policy, labor unions, and democratic theory.

His most recent book is entitled The Political Economy of Human Happiness.


Past Events

Join us for the Ethical Inquiry lecture The Cultural Relativity of Happiness presented by Shigehiro Oishi, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia on October 7th from 4PM to 6PM in the Petteruti Lounge, Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center, 75 Waterman Street.

Abstract: Once believed to be universal, a growing body of research shows that both the conception and predictors of happiness vary cross-culturally. First, the meaning and importance of happiness varies both across time and between nations. Americans, for instance, tend to define happiness in terms of pleasure or enjoyment and view happiness as universally positive, whereas East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures may highlight the transient and socially disruptive nature of happiness and be ambivalent about whether it is good. Second, predictors of happiness vary between cultures. Recent work highlights new mediators (e.g., relational mobility), individual predictors (e.g., person-culture fit), societal factors (e.g., good governance and wealth), within-culture variations (e.g., at the state or city level), and interventions (e.g., practicing gratitude) that differ cross-culturally or help explain cultural differences in happiness. Though many questions remain, this review highlights how these recent advances broaden and revise our understanding of culture and happiness.

Shigehiro Oishi's work centers on culture, social ecology, personality, and well-being. His research goals are to uncover the causes and consequences of subjective well-being, and to delineate how social ecology and human psyche make each other up. Specific research topics include residential mobility, life satisfaction, feeling understood and misunderstood, relationship satisfaction, self-concepts, pro-community behaviors, goals and values, and emotion.

He has published dozens of articles and two books, The Psychological Wealth of Nations: Do Happy People Make a Happy Society and Doing the Science of Happiness: What we learned from Psychology (in Japanese).

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