The Political Imaginary of Happiness in Greece

Dimitrios Soudias, Philipp Katsinas

Research output: Working paperAcademic

Abstract

The notion of happiness has been a frequent subject of recent governmental proclamations, signaling a departure from the moralizing discourses of guilt, blame, and debt surrounding the crisis of the past decade. The concept of happiness has attracted vast interest in the fields of psychology, economics, and self-help literature in the past decade. Faced with the consequences of the global financial crisis, many governments were looking for ways to justify the massive bailout packages they were putting together, without having to radically challenge the system that made the bailout packages necessary in the first place. The science of happiness works to this end, in that it allows for a reading of the reasons of the crisis as stemming from individual behaviours, rather than systemic failures, which can be corrected with ‘nudges’ — tricks to alter our behaviours to pursue more active and resilient lifestyles. Happiness – and its virtues of comfort, joy, pleasure, or hope – is instrumentalized for political and economic ends. Happiness overlaps with modernization, in that any form of critique against it is thwarted of as miserabilism by those who have always complained, will continue to do so, and cannot be happy. As the promise of the capitalist imaginary (the ability to compete for middle-class belonging and relative economic security, by getting a good education and working hard) has effectively collapsed for the majority of people living in Greece, its legitimacy is under threat. Capitalism, it appears, now operates without the liberal values of ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity’ that once justified capitalism’s competition and inequality. It remains to be seen whether and how the emerging crises, such as the war in Ukraine, or climate breakdown, will impact the configuration and proliferation of the political imaginary of happiness in Greece.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherENA Institute for Alternative Policies
Publication statusPublished - 8-Apr-2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • happiness
  • Greece
  • Neoliberalism
  • branding
  • governmentality

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