Porto Carreiro Neves, Rodrigo (2021) Representing Happiness: A comparative study of media coverage of the World Happiness Report. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Alongside the rise of positive psychology in late 20th century, happiness has become a topical and heavily debated part of public and academic discourse. Although the concept has been discussed in philosophical terms since antiquity, it is now linked to modern attempts to quantify ‘happiness’ on both national and global scales. Among other studies focusing on life satisfaction, the World Happiness Report (WHR) was launched in 2012 under the aegis of the United Nations. The report portrays itself as a systematic attempt to collect and analyse data about people’s subjective well being (SWB) all over the world. Since the emergence of ‘happiness science’ and so-called ‘happiness industry’ – as a shift from social well-being to happiness as a social norm – happiness indexes have been a site of controversy within social and cultural theory. Even though the WHR claims to rely on respondents’ perceptions of well-being, provided by interviews and self-reports, the act of ranking the ‘happiness’ of nations has a biopolitical role in encouraging governments to redesign policy in order to make people happier according to specific parameters. In this context, I analyse in the thesis how the happiness report is actually engaged with by news media in specific national contexts, namely the US, India, and the UK. My analysis focuses on how the WHR is interpreted by journalists, and whether mainstream media discourse privileges culturally-specific conceptions of happiness as universal norms, or creates space to contest these norms. Using a methodology that combines critical discourse analysis and frame analysis, I explore relevant patterns which emerged from the sample in order to examine to what extent journalistic narratives contribute to the discursive construction of happiness.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: critical happiness studies, World Happiness Report, national happiness, critical discourse analysis, media representation, journalism, happiness industry
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Giraud, EHS (Thesis advisor)
Poole, EA (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2021 12:12
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 12:12
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/10371

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