Understanding happiness: a mixed-methods approach

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Happiness is increasingly being recognised as something of concern amongst academics and policymakers across Europe. Many national governments are collecting statistical data on how citizens feel about their lives on an annual basis, and academics across the social sciences and humanities are taking a growing interest in what is needed for people to feel happy. Indeed, much of this work is undertaken within the subdiscipline of ‘social indicators’ research, which emphasises the importance of happiness measures as more ‘subjective’ alternatives to traditional economic or ‘objective’ indicators of societal progress, such as GDP-growth and per-capita income. Despite this proliferation of research in this area, there remains a notable absence of understandings of how happiness is experienced and perceived by people at the level of the everyday. This paper demonstrates the ways in which sociology can offer a contribution to such an understanding. It presents some preliminary findings from a mixed-methods study that combines analyses of statistical data collected by the UK government with analysis of data from qualitative interviews carried out with a smaller sample of adults in different regions of the UK. Taking into account the levels of happiness reported in different areas, the paper explores how people in respective regions experience it, and considers the role played by geography and social space in these experiences. It then concludes with a broader reflection on the ways in which happiness is socially shaped and situated, and embedded in culturally-rooted understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2015
Event12th European Sociological Association Conference - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 25 Aug 201528 Aug 2015


Conference12th European Sociological Association Conference
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


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