Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz
Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives

Polity, 2019

The imperative of happiness dictates the conduct and direction of our lives. There is no escape from the tyranny of positivity. But is happiness the supreme good that all of us should pursue? So says a new breed of so-called happiness experts, with positive psychologists, happiness economists and self-development gurus at the forefront. With the support of influential institutions and multinational corporations, these self-proclaimed experts now tell us what governmental policies to apply, what educational interventions to make and what changes we must undertake in order to lead more successful, more meaningful and healthier lives.
With a healthy scepticism, this book documents the powerful social impact of the science and industry of happiness, arguing that the neoliberal alliance between psychologists, economists and self-development gurus has given rise to a new and oppressive form of government and control in which happiness has been woven into the very fabric of power.


‘This brilliantly researched and beautifully argued book offers a devastating critique of the contemporary obsession with happiness. Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz interrogate the flaws, inconsistencies and generalizations of happiness “science” and positive psychology, showing how it has become central to a blame culture in which structural inequalities are made over as psychological deficits. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way that neoliberalism increasingly operates through psychological modes promoting confidence, resilience and “positive” feelings.’
Rosalind Gill, City, University of London

‘How have the science and industry of happiness transformed our expectations about what a good life means, and at what cost? In their critical inquiry, Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz powerfully demonstrate the pervasive neoliberal logics and pernicious social consequences of the contemporary politics of happiness.’
Didier Fassin, Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

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