[Marxism] The materialist conception of happiness

Steve Heeren tzsche at shaw.ca
Sun Nov 2 12:40:09 MST 2014

I haven't read the article Marv posted but, just from his summary alone, 
it sounds as if the study has some serious conceptual and methodological 
weaknesses. First of all, just how does it define "happiness"?  It seems 
to talk instead of "satisfaction" which is a notoriously difficult thing 
to measure, with the major ambiguity being whether the respondents are 
reporting happiness and satisfaction or, instead, essentially admitting 
to a resignation to their conditions.  This applies as much to measures 
of "job satisfaction" as it does to measures of "marital happiness", 
which is even harder to be honest about.  However, good methodologies 
can dig into these discrepancies and begin to sort them out. 
Conceptually the study seems to define Happiness as some sort of 
approximation to the "good life" as defined by market materialism, i.e., 
meeting existing standards of being a good consumer.  But, is that what 
truly brings happiness or satisfaction with life? In other words trying 
to approximate a standard which emanates from the advertising industry 
and not from one's own deeper experiences and expectations. Once PR has 
colonized our imaginations, it's hard to imagine anything else. Hence 
these kinds of studies are not a big help. And, of course, the countries 
in the "war-torn Middle East" are more pessimistic and dissatisfied than 
elsewhere because  of the consequences of "our oil being under their sand."

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