Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Sociology’s Blind Eye for Happiness

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Empirical studies on happiness have found that: a) most people are happy in modern nations, b) average happiness in nations is rising, c) inequality in happiness is going down, d) happiness depends heavily on the kind of society one lives in, but e) not very much on one’s place in society. These remarkable findings are largely ignored in sociology, if not denied. This has several reasons. One reason is professional bias: most sociologists earn their living dealing with social problems are therefore not apt to see that people flourish. Another reason is ideological: many sociologists are ‘critical’ of modern society and can therefore hardly imagine that people thrive in these conditions. Lastly, some sociological theories play them false, in particular cognitive theories implying that happiness is relative. These theories and the evidence against them are discussed in this paper.

Affiliations: 1: Erasmus University RotterdamNetherlandsNorth-West UniversitySouth


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Bentham J. Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation 1789 London Payne
2. Berg M. , Veenhoven R. Greve Bent "‘Income inequality and happiness in 119 nations’" ‘Social Policy and Happiness in Europe’ 2010 Edgar Elgar 174 194 chapter 11
3. Bradburn N. The structure of psychological well-being 1969 Chicago, USA Aldine Publishing
4. Brickman P. , Campbell D.T. Appley M.H. "‘Hedonic relativism and planning the good society’" Adaptation level theory: a symposium 1971 London, UK Academic Press 287 302
5. Daly M.C. , Oswald A.J. , Wilson D. , Wu S. "‘Dark Contrasts: The Paradox of High Rates of Suicide in Happy Places’" Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 2011 80 435 442
6. Damasio A.R. Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason and the human brain 1994 New York Avon Books
7. Danner D.D. , Friesen W.V. , Snowdow D.A. "‘Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study’" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2001 Vol 80 804 813
8. Davies A.G. , Strong P.M. "‘Working without a net: the bachelors as a social problem’" Sociological Review 1977 Vol 25 109 129
9. Diener E. , Lucas R.E. , Smith H.L. , Eunkook S.M. "‘Subjective wellbeing, three decades of progress’" Psychological Bulletin 1999 Vol Vol. 125 276 301 1999
10. Diener E. , Lucas R.E. "‘Explaining differences in societal levels of happiness: relative standards need fulfilment, culture and evaluation theory’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2000 Vol 1 41 78
11. Donovan N. , Halpern D. , Sargant R. Life Satisfaction: The State of Knowledge and Implications for Government 2003 Discussion Paper, Strategy Unit, 2003, Government uk
12. Easterlin R.A. Davis P.A. , Melvin W.R "‘Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence’" Nations and households in economic growth 1974 Paolo Alto Stanford University Press, USA 98 125
13. Ehrhardt J. , Saris W.E. , Veenhoven R. "‘Stability of life-satisfaction over time: Analysis of change in ranks in a national population’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2000 Vol 1 177 205
14. Elchardus M. , DeGroof , Smits W. "‘Rationele angst of collectieve voorstelling van onbehagen’" Mens en Maatschappij 2005 Vol 80 1 48 68
15. Frank F.H. Luxury fever; why money fails to satisfy in an era of excess 1999 New York The Free press
16. Giddens A. Sociology 2006 6th edition Cambridge Polity Press
17. Headey B. , Wearing A.J. Understanding happiness: A theory of subjective wellbeing 1992 Melbourne, Australia Longman Cheshire
18. Inglehart R. Culture shift in advanced industrial society 1990 New York Princeton University Press
19. Johnson A.G. Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology 2002 2nd edition Malden, MA Blackwell Publishers
20. Layard R. Happiness, lessons from a new science 2005 New York, USA Penguin books
21. March I. , Keating M. , Eyre A. , Campbell R. , McKenzie J. Making sense of society: An introduction to sociology 1996 Harlow England Addison Wesley Longman
22. Michalos A.C. "‘Multiple discrepancy theory’" Social Indicator Research 1985 Vol 16 347 413
23. Newman D.M. Sociology: Exploring the architecture of every day life 1997 2nd edition Thousand Oaks, California, USA Pine Forge Press
24. Nolan P. , Lensky G. Human Societies: An introduction to macro-sociology 2004 Boulder Colorado, USA Paradigm Press
25. Ostroot N. , Snyder W.W. "‘Measuring cultural bias in a cross-national study’" Social Indicators Research 1985 Vol 17 234 251
26. Ott J. "‘Level and inequality of happiness in nations: Does greater happiness of a greater number imply greater inequality in happiness?’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2005 Vol 5 397 420
27. Plé B. "‘Auguste Comte on positivism and happiness’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2000 Vol 1 Special issue on ‘Views on happiness in early sociology’ 423 445
28. Schwartz N. , Strack F. Strack F. , Argyle M. , Schwartz N. "‘Evaluating one’s life: a judgmental model of subjective well-being’" Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective 1991 Oxford, UK Pergamon Press 27 48
29. Spencer H. Social statics or the conditions essential to happiness 1857 London Chapman
30. Stauffer S.A. The American soldier: Adjustment during army life 1949 Princeton Princeton University Press
31. VanPraag B.M. , Ferrer-i-Carbonell A. "‘Happiness economics: A new road to measuring and comparing happiness’" Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics 2010 6 1 97
32. Veenhoven R. Conditions of Happiness 1984 Reidel [now Springer] Dordrecht
33. Veenhoven R. "‘The cross-national pattern of happiness: Test of predictions implied in three theories of happiness’" Social Indicators Research 1995 Vol 43 33 86
34. Veenhoven R. "‘Well-being in the welfare state: level not higher, distribution not more equitable’" Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 2000 Vol 2 91 125
35. Veenhoven R. "‘Return of inequality in modern society? Test by trend in dispersion of life-satisfaction across time and nations’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2005 6 457 487
36. Veenhoven R. "‘Comparability of happiness across nations’" School of Sociology and Social Work Journal 2008a no 104 211 234 Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
37. Veenhoven R. "‘Healthy Happiness: Effects of Happiness on physical health and consequences for preventive health care’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2008b 9 449 464
38. Veenhoven R. Dutt A.K. , Radcliff B. "‘How do we assess how happy we are?’" Happiness, Economics and Politics: Towards a multi-disciplinary approach 2009 Cheltenham UK Edward Elger Publishers 45 69 Chapter 3
39. Veenhoven R. Diener Ed , Helliwell John F. , Kahneman Daniel "‘How universal is happiness?’" International Differences in Well-Being 2010 New York Oxford University Press 328 350 Chapter 11
40. Veenhoven R. World Database of Happiness: Archive of research findings on subjective appreciation of life, Section Correlational findings 2013a Erasmus university Rotterdam
41. Veenhoven R. Trend Happy-Life-Years in Nations 1946–2010: How long and happy people live 2013b Trend report in World Database of Happiness
42. Veenhoven R. Sheldon K. , Lucas R. "‘Long-term change of happiness in nations: To times more rise than decline since the 1970s’" Stability of happiness: Theories and evidence on whether happiness can change 2014 Elsevier Publishing 167 200 chapter 9
43. Veenhoven R. , Kalmijn W. "‘Inequality-adjusted happiness in nations: Egalitarianism and utilitarianism married together in a new index of societal performance’" Journal of Happiness Studies 2005 Vol 6 (Special issue on inequality of happiness in nations) 421 455
44. Veenhoven R. , Berg M. "‘Has modernization gone too far? Modernity and happiness in 141 contemporary nations’" International Journal of Happiness and Development 2013 1 172 195
45. Veenhoven R. , Vergunst F. "‘The Easterlin Illusion: Economic growth does go with greater happiness’" International Journal of Happiness and Development 2014 2 in press
46. wdh World Database of Happiness see Veenhoven 2013a

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Comparative Sociology — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation