Summary of The Happiness Industry

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8 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

7 Style


Political economist William Davies, a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, discusses the official obsession with happiness. Happy workers are more productive, but today’s workers aren’t happy. Their frequent absences and general apathy cost billions of dollars in lost productivity every year. Managers and policy makers respond with programs to boost happiness. They hire happiness consultants, create positions like “chief happiness officer” and monitor social media for spikes in sad words. In dispassionate prose spiced with moments of dry humor, Davies offers a detailed, dense and depressing look at the increasingly pervasive monitoring and manipulation of people’s moods. getAbstract suggests this contrarian view to managers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and those who prefer to determine for themselves how they feel – happy or not.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why 21st-century businesses and governments seek to boost happiness, and
  • How the science of measuring and manipulating happiness developed.

About the Author

Political economist William Davies is a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is co-director of the Political Economy Research Center. He has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times and The New Statesman.



The Happiness Regime

Worker disengagement undermines productivity, and pervasive mental illness strains government resources. The rising rates of depression and worker disengagement may explain why those in power in corporations and government now prioritize cultivating happiness. Business leaders and public policy makers dwell extensively on the techniques and technology they can use to measure and mitigate stress, illness and depression.

Corporations now create such positions as “chief happiness officer.” They draw on neuroscience to track employees’ moods and hire behavioral consultants to craft programs to cheer up the members of their workforce. Governments keep statistics on national well-being and offer optimism coaching to the unemployed. At least one municipality experimented with “positive psychology” programs in schools to inculcate the habits of optimism in children.

The happiness movement ignores such social and political conditions as income inequality and a hypercompetitive culture that contribute to a general malaise. It tends to view depression and other disaffection-related disorders as individual problems to fix with medication or therapy.

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    Ashish Agarwal 2 years ago
    Which is the world's happiest country - Denmark/ Switzerland or Bhutan?
  • Avatar
    Jim Getten 2 years ago
    This book makes me very happy.
    • Avatar
      Finlay Macrae 2 years ago
      Would the abstract give a similar level of happiness?
    • Avatar
      Ashish Agarwal 2 years ago
      How far is the reality from the 'utopia' laid out in the books? That difference then is your playground that you have to mend to achieve your goals.