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This unique and engaging study argues that the Western concern with achieving happiness should be understood in terms of its relationship to the political ideologies that have emerged since the Enlightenment. To do so, each chapter examines the place that happiness occupies in the construction of ideologies that have formed the political terrain of the West, including liberalism, postmodernism, socialism, fascism, and religion. Throughout, Hegel's phenomenology, Nietzsche's genealogy, and Derrida's account of deconstruction as reactions to modernization are used to show that the politics of happiness are always a clash of fundamental ideas of belonging, overcoming, and ethical responsibility. Stressing that the concept of happiness lies at the foundation of political movements, the book also looks at its place in the current global order, analyzing the emergence of such ideas as affective democracy that challenge the conventional notions of privatized, acquisitive happiness.
Written in a clear manner, the work will appeal to political theory students and researchers looking for a critical and historical account of contemporary debates about the nature of happiness and ideology.
Ross Abbinnett is Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Theory, University of Birmingham, UK. His main research interests lie in the areas of social and political theory, culture and aesthetics, and technology and society. He has published extensively in these fields, including Truth and Social Science (Sage, 1998), Culture and Identity (Sage, 2003), and Marxism After Modernity (Palgrave, 2006).