Towards a Sociology of Happiness: The Case of an Age Perspective on the Social Context of Well-Being
37 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 14, 2011
A vast literature has recently emerged on subjective well-being (SWB) examining the determinants of happiness and life satisfaction, particularly in Psychology and Economics. The research area has become very influential in the policy world, as governments are becoming increasingly keen to 'measure happiness' through official statistics. In Sociology, by contrast, the concept of happiness has not gained such prominence, despite the fact that the discipline would have a lot to offer. Consequently, this article examines what can be the contribution of Sociology to the ‘new science of happiness’, and what can such happiness studies contribute to Sociology? It does so by presenting the example of a quantitative analysis of European Social Survey data for the UK on social capital and life satisfaction by age. The aim is to illustrate how Sociological theory can crucially enrich research on SWB by relating the under-theorised field to broader narratives. At the same time, it is demonstrated that analysing data on life satisfaction can deliver much needed empirical tests of and new perspectives on long-standing sociological theories.
Keywords: happiness, homo sociologicus, role-identity theory, social capital, subjective well-being
JEL Classification: I31, J13, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation