The Happiness Industry

  • by William Davies
  • Narrated by Jack Hawkins
  • 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

What was a Buddhist monk doing at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos lecturing the world's leaders on mindfulness? Why do many successful corporations have a chief happiness officer? What can the chemical composition of your brain tell a potential employer about you?
In the past decade, governments and corporations have become increasingly interested in measuring the way people feel: the Happiness index, Gross National Happiness, well-being and positive psychology have come to dominate the way we live our lives. As a result, our emotions have become a new resource to be bought and sold.
In a fascinating investigation combining history, science and ideas, William Davies shows how well-being influences all aspects of our lives: business, finance, marketing and smart technology.
This audiobook will make you rethink everything from the way you work, the power of the Nudge, the ever-expanding definitions of depression, and the commercialization of your most private feelings. The Happiness Industry is a shocking and brilliantly argued warning about the new religion of the age: our emotions.

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What the Critics Say

"Deeply researched and pithily argued, Davies's work is a welcome corrective to the glut of semi-scientific happiness books that have become so popular in business and management circles, and which rarely, if ever, acknowledge the larger ideological goals of workplace well-being." (New York Magazine)
"When the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham suggested that maximising happiness was the job of government, he inspired a quest to measure happiness that continues today. Until recently, the only effective tool for that - as the political scientist Will Davies explains in a forceful new book, The Happiness Industry - has been money." (Observer)
"As Davies implies in this readable, disturbing book, being depressed by the human condition will no longer be socially acceptable, or even an option. The state or big business will soon see to it!" (Independent)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting but hard to follow

This seemed like a fascinating subject but although it certainly was thought-provoking, raising some very valid points, I felt that it could have been done better. It felt like too much emphasis was placed on the history of utilitarianism without sufficiently clarifying the connection to the modern day "happiness industry". This is not to say I disagreed. I could definitely see the author's point. However, I just feel it could have been made better.

On the narration: I know that it's hard to find the right tone when narrating a book on this subject. I don't know however, if there is any need to sound literally depressed as one is doing the reading. It actually did make the listening experience worse.
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- David Jackson

Strawmen, babies & bathwater

One aspect of the argument is persuasive - the way that power can and will coopt anything it can, and has a particular fondness for the soft science of the soft matter. The actual argumentation - less so. On the one hand there is an insistence on the inviolable subject that borders on dualism, one so complete that established neuroscience is discussed in ways that resemble nothing so much as the language of climate change denial, and on the other, a valorisation of a select number of voices who simply state clearly the implications of much current psychology & well-being research - as if a climate change denier were also, simultaneously, to blame the science for hypocritical greenwashing. It's frustrating, since, while the co-option of psych by the adman and the government lackey is not exactly news, a book synthesising the radical implications of the positive psychology movement is more than due. As it is, the author does not fully acknowledge how high - if his thesis about the intight & instrumental nature of psychology & power is correct - this particular petard could blow .
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- Jeremy Bee

Book Details

  • Release Date: 14-04-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios