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Well-beingIn search of a good life?$
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Beverley Searle

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781861348876

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861348876.001.0001

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The enigma of well-being?

The enigma of well-being?

(p.11) Two The enigma of well-being?

Beverley A. Searle

Policy Press

This chapter charts the historical development of economic and psychological understandings of well-being, and sets out the sociology that underpins these theories. It also updates the debates, turning attention to the more recent preoccupation with positive psychology and happiness. This chapter argues that early theories were restrictive in their understanding of well-being through a tendency to focus on negatives namely, deprivation, exclusion and poverty. Well-being has become synonymous with quality of life and the possession of resources necessary for the satisfaction of needs, wants, desires and participation in activities enabling personal development, and self-actualisation and satisfactory comparison between oneself and others. This chapter shows as well how these conceptualisations have, in turn, been borne out by the development of comprehensive sets of indicators by which well-being can be measured both spatially and temporally.

Keywords:   quality of life, poverty, deprivation, wealth, psychology, happiness, measurements

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