© 2017

The Happiness Riddle and the Quest for a Good Life


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 1-11
  3. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 13-26
  4. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 27-41
  5. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 43-53
  6. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 55-66
  7. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 67-91
  8. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 93-122
  9. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 157-187
  10. Mark Cieslik
    Pages 189-216
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 227-235

About this book


This book examines the meaning of happiness in Britain today, and observes that although we face challenges such as austerity, climate change and disenchantment with politics, we continue to be interested in happiness and living well. The author illustrates how happiness is a far more contested, social process than is often portrayed by economists and psychologists, and takes issue with sociologists who often regard wellbeing and the happiness industry with suspicion, whilst neglecting one of the key features of being human – the quest for a good life. Exploring themes that question what it means to be happy and live a good life in Britain today, such as the challenges young people face making their way through education and into their first jobs; work life-balance; mid-life crises; and old age, the book presents nineteen life stories that call for a far more critical and ambitious approach to happiness research that marries the radicalism of sociology, with recent advances in psychology and economics.   



self-help mid life crisis Sociology young adults childhood Britain psychology economics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Northumbria UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Mark Cieslik is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Northumbria University, UK. He established the British Sociological Association Happiness Study Group in 2009.     

Bibliographic information


“First, it will stimulate some critical thinking in anyone who is embarking on an undergraduate or Master’s level course in positive psychology (or thinking of doing so). Second, it gives a good overview of the study of well-being for students of other social sciences. Third, it would be useful reading for public policymakers who wish to counterbalance some of the rather simplistic messages that are occasionally used to promote the ‘happiness agenda.’” (Nicholas J. L. Brown, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 62 (38), September, 2017)