Positive psychology’s promise of happiness: A new form of human capital in contemporary neoliberal governmentality

[Nuevo artículo de Rodrigo de la Fabián y Antonio Stecher en Theory & Psychology]

Positive psychology’s promise of happiness: A new form of human capital in contemporary neoliberal governmentality


The article seeks to contribute to governmentality studies by looking anew at the subjectivities posited by neoliberalism and especially by positive psychology. Focusing in particular on Sam Binkley’s critical work on this psychological sub-discipline, we offer a political analysis of the new ways of becoming a subject it proposes. For Binkley, positive psychology operates as a subjectivising vector by promoting a specific kind of work on oneself. His approach, we suggest, rests on a conception that relies on the classical disjunction between production and effort, on the one hand, and consumption and satisfaction, on the other. With references to Foucault, Marx, Becker, and Schultz’s conceptions of work and subjectivity, the article shows that positive psychology’s novelty is to enable a new happy subjective perspective from where happiness, rather than a long-term objective, is considered to be a precondition of work, a radical new form of human capital.


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