Deconstructing Happiness:

Critical sociology and the good life

Seminar presented by Dr Jordan McKenzie, Lecturer, Sociology, University of New England

4pm Thursday 15th September 2016

Oorala Lecture Theatre

Book Launch Deconstructing Happiness: Critical sociology and the good life (2016, Routledge)
Formal proceedings in Oorala Foyer: from 5pm with drinks & canapés
Associate Professor Adrian Walsh will officially launch the book


In late modernity, individuals seem to be experiencing two lives simultaneously; in one they are more privileged and safer from harm than ever before, while in the other, there are economic, environmental and political conditions that threaten the stability of everyday life. The result is an intersection of tensions that turns questions of meaning, legitimisation and contentment into ambiguous and problematic notions within the relationship between the individual and society. By employing a critical approach to the good life, his book asks why, despite radical improvements in civil rights, living standards and technological possibilities, individuals appear to be increasingly dissatisfied. While short-term happiness appears to be in abundance in fast-paced consumer societies, contentment as a lasting and rewarding form of satisfaction has become increasingly elusive. This seminar will draw from a selection of theoretical perspectives in order to provide an evaluation of the good life through critiques of modernity. In doing so, I aim to better establish the sociological tradition as a valuable contributor to happiness discourse, even in cases where key thinkers have not explicitly written on the topic.

launch seminar recording