The Inescapable Quest for Happiness: Exploring How the Ideology of Happiness Shapes the Contemporary Consumer Marketplace

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Patry-Beaudoin, Gabrielle
Marketing , Marketplace , Happiness , Ideology , Heterotopia , Consumption culture
This paper draws attention to the ideology of happiness and examines how it structures a marketplace. The quest for happiness has an extensive presence in contemporary Western culture (Burnett 2012) and is ubiquitous in the context of the marketplace. Prior happiness research conceptualizes happiness as a positive psychological state, emphasizing individuals’ experience (Layard 2005; Thin 2014; Veenhoven 2015). Building on the sociology literature (Cabanas and Illouz 2019; Davies 2015), this study posits that happiness can also be understood as an ideology associated with different values and cultural meanings. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of heterotopia (Foucault and Miskowiec 1986), this study shifts the focus away from the individual experience of happiness to a cultural level of understanding, exploring the following question: How does the ideology of happiness in contemporary consumer society inform the actions of consumers and producers? Using a qualitative investigation, this study contributes to the marketplace literature by investigating the ideological nature of happiness. The findings highlight four happiness discourses that interact in the marketplace and reveal how consumers and producers negotiate these different and contradictory cultural discourses.
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