Wellbeing research and policy in the U.K.: questionable science likely to entrench inequality

Journal of Critical Realism 16 (5):451-467 (2017)

Leigh Price
Rhodes University
There are grave issues with how the U.K. government approaches the issue of wellbeing. Specifically, policy interventions that might improve the material conditions of citizens are being down-played, and at times out-rightly dismissed. Instead, an individualist, instrumental message is being promoted, namely, that the best way to improve wellbeing is by improving individual happiness and mental health. I argue that this instrumental message – which in practice blames the victims for their lack of happiness and removes state responsibility – can be made to sound feasible because of a reliance on positivist-based research, whether obtained objectively or subjectively. In this paper, I therefore detail the failings of mainstream wellbeing research and its policy conclusions, and argue that critical realism offers solutions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/14767430.2017.1371985
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,999
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Realist Theory of Science.Caroline Whitbeck & Roy Bhaskar - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (1):114.
Critical Realist Versus Mainstream Interdisciplinarity.Leigh Price - 2014 - Journal of Critical Realism 13 (1):52-76.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Introduction to the Special Issue: Normativity.Leigh Price - 2019 - Journal of Critical Realism 18 (3):221-238.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Wealth and Economic Inequality.James B. Davies - 2009 - In Wiemer Salverda, Brian Nolan & Timothy M. Smeeding (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality. Oxford University Press.
Alive and Well: The Research Imperative.Rebecca Dresser - 2012 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 40 (4):915-921.
The Impact of Inequality.Richard Wilkinson - 2006 - Social Research 73:711-732.
Inequality and Political Consensus.Hans Peter Grüner - 2009 - Theory and Decision 67 (3):239-265.
The Impact of Inequality.Richard G. Wilkinson - 2006 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 73 (2):711-732.
Developing a Federal Policy on Research Misconduct.Sybil Francis - 1999 - Science and Engineering Ethics 5 (2):261-272.


Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #333,185 of 2,266,718 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
15 ( #53,500 of 2,266,718 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature