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The Happiness Industry


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About the Author

William Davies is the author of The Limits of Neoliberalism. His writing has appeared in New Left Review, Prospect, the Financial Times, and Open Democracy. His website www.potlatch.org.uk was featured in the New York Times. He teaches at Goldsmiths, London.


"Deeply researched and pithily argued, Davies's work is a welcome corrective to the glut of semi-scientific happiness books that have become so popular in business and management circles, and which rarely, if ever, acknowledge the larger ideological goals of workplace well-being." - New York Magazine "When the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham suggested that maximising happiness was the job of government, he inspired a quest to measure happiness that continues today. Until recently, the only effective tool for that-as the political scientist Will Davies explains in a forceful new book, The Happiness Industry-has been money." - Observer "As Davies implies in this readable, disturbing book, being depressed by the human condition will no longer be socially acceptable, or even an option. The state or big business will soon see to it!" - Independent "Rich, lucid and arresting" - John Gray, Literary Review "Brilliant ... explains how the rhetoric of competition has invaded almost every domain of our existence." - Evgeny Morozov, author of To Save Everything, Click Here (in praise of The Limits of Neoliberalism) "When did happiness itself become a liability? When the market figured out that making us content is the first stage in manufacturing our consent. In this accessible, fact-filled history of measured happiness, William Davies shows us how metrics of well-being were systematically disconnected from meaning and community, and in the process transformed from the very core of human power into an access panel to our desires and behavior. I can't listen to that damned 'Happy' song anymore without thinking about whom my supposed happiness really serves, and what they're willing to do to make sure I stay that way." - Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now "A fascinating book." - Philip Mirowski, author of Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste (in praise of The Limits of Neoliberalism) "In a heady mixture of psychology, economics, sociology, and philosophy, this book reveals the misguided nature of the currently popular intellectual project to make people happier and improve society through 'scientific' understanding - and manipulation - of human beings. With many governments and corporations hell-bent on control promoting it aggressively, this project is increasingly depriving our societies of true social bonds, democratic participation, critical thinking, and even happiness itself. An eye-opening, head-spinning, and mind-expanding book." - Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism "A brilliant, and sometimes eerie, dissection of our times." - Vice "William Davies argues that our happiness fixation may have more to do with the interests of corporations and governments than personal fulfilment." - Fortune "An interesting contribution to the growing genre of happiness studies" - THE "Davies, explaining the evolution of the science of happiness from the French Revolution to the present, argues it essentially serves the interests of the powerful elite. This challenging book will appeal to academics and students of various disciplines." - Booklist "Skillfully written intellectual entertainment-prime fodder for postmodern psychologists and New-Age thinkers alike." - Kirkus Reviews "Davies's concern is to show that by making us more resilient and more productive, the happiness industry tricks us into settling for too little." - Katrina Forrester, London Review of Books "How "managing our happiness" is becoming an increasingly lucrative and insidious industry." New Humanist "The Happiness Industry is a thought-provoking and daring intervention into the crowded field of neoliberal political economy [...] Its bold theses and elegant historical foundation provides political economists with much new material to consider." - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics "Davies has added a valuable critique, and a fantastic read, to the current literature on happiness." - Jared Smith, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books "Although the book draws on scientific knowledge, it remains a popular book aimed at an interested general population and should be read as such. ... It is a fascinating exploration and well-grounded argument of how and why people are cashing in on the 'happiness industry'." - Tracey Platt and Willibald Ruch, The Humorous Times, Winter 2017

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