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Community Psychology's Contributions to Happiness and Well-being: Including the Role of Context, Social Justice, and Values in our Understanding of the Good Life


Abstract and Figures

In the last few decades, research on happiness and well-being has examined many important aspects of human flourishing. However, we believe that some underlying features have also been largely overlooked. In particular, three factors—namely, Context, Social Justice, and Values—do not figure prominently in most investigations of the good life. We find this shortcoming particularly problematic for the Positive Psychology movement, which over the past couple of decades has been proudly carrying the torch of promoting human flourishing. Hence, this chapter is aimed at investigating these three domains from an inter-disciplinary, critical, and ecological perspective, which we frame in the Community Psychology ethos and practice. These contributions show that happiness and well-being should not be considered only as a matter of individual interest, but understood from a systemic and contextual perspective encompassing personal, interpersonal, communal, institutional, and societal levels of analysis. A second aim is to demonstrate that a well-lived life is not only attributable to personal commitments and achievements, but also to the availability and equitable distribution of resources and life-fulfilling opportunities. Lastly, we argue that values are desiderata for a good life that is respectful of the goodness of others and the whole ecosystem. With this contribution, our aim is to offer a new conceptual framework to overcome current limitations within and outside Positive Psychology, and in so doing to advance future strategies for intervention and promotion of the good life. 2
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Cite as: Di Martino, S., Eiroa-Orosa, F. J., & Arcidiacono, C. (2017). Community Psychology’s Contributions on
Happiness and Well-being: Including the Role of Context, Social Justice, and Values in Our Understanding
of the Good Life. In N. J. L. Brown, T. Lomas, & F. J. Eiroa-Orosa (Eds.), The Routledge International
Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology (pp. 99118). London, UK: Routledge.
Chapter 7
Community Psychology’s Contributions on Happiness and Well-being: Including the
Role of Context, Social Justice, and Values in Our Understanding of the Good Life.
Salvatore Di Martino, Francisco José Eiroa-Orosa, and Caterina Arcidiacono
Over the last few decades the scientific literature, institutional, and national
policymakers (cf. Lomas, Chapter 22 in this volume), and the general public have demonstrated
a growing commitment to the furtherance of the happiness and well-being agenda. However,
if we were to look through a critical lens at the extensive body of literature they have produced,
we would notice that some relevant issues have been surprisingly left unaddressed. In
particular, in this chapter we argue that three elements, namely Context, Social Justice, and
Values, have been extensively neglected, and this has significantly impaired the understanding
of current scholarship regarding the good life.
For instance, the lack of recognition attributed to Context has led several thinkers to
either develop or adopt overly individual-centred models of human flourishing (Diener, 1984;
R. M. Ryan & Deci, 2000; Ryff, 1989; Seligman, 2002, 2011; see also Table 7.1), which are
for the most part blind to social and environmental determinants. On the other hand, economists
and sociologists have often produced models and findings in specific policy fields useful to
inform lawmakers about the value of national life satisfaction and wellness (Bok, 2010;
Mulgan, 2013), and yet too abstract to be still applicable to individual circumstances (Layard,
2005; Stiglitz, Sen, & Fitoussi, 2010; see also Table 7.1).
As we hope to show in the following pages, we believe that both of these approaches
are hindered by a common limitation, namely a narrow understanding of the true contextual
nature of the good life. Closely related to this, we contend that they also disregard the presence,
allocation, and administration of resources and opportunities in the environment. In other
words, they lack awareness of how power differential, inequality, and social injustice filter
through the social fabric down to the individual existences by affecting personal, interpersonal,
and communal wellness (Prilleltensky, 2012).
Lastly, we argue that the neglect of an ethical and value-based perspectivewhich, as
Jeffrey Sachs (2013) has pointed out, is one of the factors most often overlooked in current
discussions of well-being” (p. 81)stems from an interpretation of science in general and
psychology in particular, as value-free disciplines (Cushman, 1990; Proctor, 1991). As a
consequence, what the multitude considers the quest for a happy lifewhich very often
conceals a selfish pursuit of personal satisfactionhas been disregarding its possible negative
impact on other people and the physical as well as psycho-social environment (Haybron, 2008).
Nevertheless, some reluctant voice might object that Context, Social Justice/Equity,
and Values are never entirely omitted from any sound investigation in the nature of the good
life (for a review, see Arcidiacono & Di Martino, 2016). We can agree with this line of
argument, yet not in toto, and to make our case more explicit, we designed Table 7.1. This tool
showcases some of what we regard as the most utilized models and theories of happiness and
well-being along with a description of the understanding they hold about Context, Social
Justice, and Values.
A quick look at the table would apparently give full credit to the above criticism. After
all, every single model we presented seems to tick of all the Context, Social Justice, and Values
N.B. The table has no pretence to be exhaustive and it has been developed mainly to make our case more
easily understandable to the readers of this chapter.
boxes. However, we believe that this does not suffice to conclude that the literature holds a
clear vision of the issues at stake. Quite, the opposite, we believe that its understanding of the
good life in matters of Context, Social Justice, and Values is quite patchy and piecemeal.
Indeed, it should not come as a surprise to discover that a preponderance of contributions
presented in Table 7.1 have so far been quite reticent to exchange, combine, and synthesise
reciprocal practices, findings, and strategies of intervention. Even the rare exceptions we can
count have failed to overcome the boundaries of multidisciplinarity (see Sirgy et al., 2006) and
venture into the often unexplored territory of Interdisciplinarity and, less still,
Transdisciplinarity (Choi & Pak, 2006).
The direct consequence of this is that Context, Justice, and Values have been hitherto
addressed as three separate domains, each with distinct relevance to the pursuit of the good life.
For instance, some of the theories and models presented above might have a clear vision about
issues of Social Justice while lacking knowledge on how these affects society beyond the
macro-level (e.g., Stiglitz et al., 2010). Others might be well aware of either individual or social
determinants of well-being (e.g., Diener, 2009; Keyes, 1998) while still being little concerned
about ethical conflicts related to both the personal and collective pursuit of the good life. As
such, many of the forms of scholarship presented in Table 7.1 lack a full understanding of how
the three domains are interconnected, or in other words, an awareness of their combined
contribution to the promotion of human flourishing.
Table 7.1. Theories and Models of Happiness and Well-being and Their Contribution to Context, Social Justice, and Values
Subjective Well-
being (SWB)
(Diener, 2009).
Subjective well-
being refers to the
global experience
of positive
reactions to ones
life. Life
pertains to a
conscious global
judgment of one’s
Global Life
and Prosocial
SWB primarily
resides within the
experience of the
individual (Diener,
Cultural differences
in SWB are also
taken into account.
SWB by itself is
insufficient for
evaluating the
success of a
society. It also
needs to account
for human rights
and societal
equality (Diener,
Diener, & Diener,
appears to bring
out the best in
humans, making
them more social,
more cooperative,
and even more
ethical.” (Kesebir
& Diener, 2008,
p. 67).
Well-being (PWB)
(Ryff, 1989; Ryff
& Keyes, 1995).
well-being is
understood in
terms of optimal
Happiness is
understood as
Purpose in Life
Leading a Life of
Connections to
PWB is explicitly
concerned with the
development and
self-realization of
the individual (Ryff
& Singer, 2008).
However, societal
level factors are also
Attention to the
impact of
status and social
inequality, and
belonging to
ethnic minorities
Drawing from
Aristotle, PWB is
rooted in the
values, according
to which the
good life is a
virtuous life.”
affective well-
Personal Growth
Life difficulties
requisite to a full
understanding of
human well-being
(Ryff, Magee, Kling,
& Wing, 1999)
on Psychological
Well-being theory
model (Seligman,
2002, 2011).
includes Positive
Engagement, and
Meaning. Well-
being also adds
Relationships and
to these.
Strong emphasis
on prevention and
health promotion.
Psychology should
promote human
flourishing, not
just treating
mental illness.
psychological traits
Positive institutions
promotion should
not be the only
aims of public
policy. Justice,
democracy, peace,
and tolerance also
need to be valued
(Seligman, 2011).
The individual
pursuit of well-
being is to be
underpinned by
the development
of Character
Strengths and
Virtues (Peterson
& Seligman,
Theory (SDT)
(Deci & Ryan,
2002; R. M. Ryan
& Deci, 2001).
Well-being refers
to optimal
functioning and
experience. It also
draws on both
hedonism and
Happiness is a
form of hedonic
well-being that
pertains to
pleasure and
enjoyment of life.
SDT’s arena is
the investigation
of peoples
inherent growth
tendencies and
needs that are the
basis for their self-
motivation and
integration, as
well as for the
conditions that
foster those
processes (R. M.
Ryan & Deci,
2000, p. 68).
Strong focus on the
relationship between
individual and
context. SDT
includes the
interaction between
an active, integrating
human nature and
social contexts that
either nurture or
impede the
organisms active
nature (Deci &
Ryan, 2002, p. 6).
Emphasis on
human autonomy.
The positions that
fail to recognize
the importance of
autonomy for
well-being may be
condoning the
denial of human
freedom to a
significant portion
of the inhabitants
of the globe (R.
M. Ryan, & Deci,
eudaimonic vision
of well-being
intrinsic goals
and values
Behaving in
volitional, or
consensual ways
Being mindful
and acting with
Behaving in
ways that satisfy
relatedness, and
Social Well-being
(Keyes, 1998).
Happiness is
defined in terms of
life satisfaction.
Social well-being
is the appraisal of
circumstance and
functioning in
Critique of
models that
conceive of the
self as primarily
private. Emphasis
on social nature of
Social well-being
represents primarily
a public
phenomenon, since
adults encounter
social tasks in their
social structures and
Social structure
contributes to
either promote or
hinder social well-
individuals display
obligations that
contribute to
society.” (Keyes,
1998, p. 122)
Frey & Stutzers
approach to
happiness in
economics (Frey
& Stutzer, 2002).
subjective and
cognition and
affect, and stocks
and flows of
resources, with
regard to
subjective well-
Pleasant Affect
Life Satisfaction
Labour Market
Family and
Personality Socio-
Micro and Macro
economic factors
Contextual and
situational factors
Institutional (or
Emphasis on
procedural justice
as right to
participate to
political decision-
making and actual
Focus on the
detrimental effect
of inequality on
happiness and the
importance of
freedom and
Economic issues
(e.g., runaway
undermine the
moral basis of
economics can be
manipulated to
increase individual
happiness, and in
turn citizens
involvement in
civil life.
The Four Qualities
of Life Model and
2000, 2005).
Happiness or
Appreciation of
life combines
Life results and
Inner qualities.”
combines Life
Chances and
Inner Qualities.”
Life chances
Life results
Inner qualities
Outer qualities
Liveability of the
Life-ability of
the individual
External utility
of life
appreciation of
Analysis of
conditions at the
macro-level of
society, the meso
level of
organizations and
the micro-level of
application of the
Happy Life-Years
Index shows high
correlations with
freedom, and
The art-of-living
is seen as the skill
of living up to
moral principles
2003). Three
ideologies are
Living up to
Living up to an
Wellness theory
Model of Well-
2005, 2012;
Prilleltensky et al.,
Life satisfaction is
an indicator of the
personal level of
well-being. Well-
being is the
satisfaction of
objective and
subjective needs
of individuals,
organizations, and
Overall Well-
Physical Well-
Economic Well-
Personal growth
Social justice
Support for
Respect for
and democratic
The promotion of
encompasses four
Suboptimal, and
conditions of
are linked to
Coping, and
conditions of
The cultural
primes peoples
engagement in
either positive or
behaviours. The
rearrangement of
the environment,
can prompt people
to engage in
prosocial and
The Big 7 Model
(Layard, 2005)
and Action for
Happiness is a
experience that
includes both
feelings and
overall satisfaction
with life.
Community and
Personal values
Supporter of the
happiness for the
greatest number
principle. Happy
societies are built
on collaboration,
trust, altruism, and
good social
Happier societies
strive to improve
working conditions,
family relationships,
and local
policies should aim
to maximize
happiness for the
greatest number of
Fairness is
ultimately about
how happiness is
Government and
citizens alike
should focus on
the equality with
which happiness is
distributed in
The right action is
the one that
produces the
greatest overall
Peoples duty is to
disseminate as
much happiness as
they can, and
reduce the amount
of misery in the
Report by the
Commission on
the Measurement
of Economic
Performance and
Social Progress
(Stiglitz et al.,
Well-being has to
do with both
resources and non-
economic aspects
of peoples lives.
Happiness is
understood in
terms of both
Material living
including work
Subjective well-
being (cognitive
positive affect,
and negative
(functioning and
Fair allocations
Quality of Life
(QoL) takes the
individual as the
fundamental unit of
analysis. This should
not imply neglecting
community or
institutional levels,
rather it can be
evaluated with
regard to what meso-
Strong emphasis
on social
inequality (both in
terms of
distribution of
resources and non-
dimensions of
quality of life),
Supporter of the
Capabilities vision
of responsibility
and role played by
ethical principles
in the design of
the good
experience and
life satisfaction.
Political voice
and governance
connections and
Insecurity, of an
economic as well
as a physical
and macro-structures
contribute to the
QoL of individuals
within those levels.
sustainability, as
well as the
promotion of
political voices,
guarantees, and
the rule of law.
Amartya Sens
Approach (Sen,
1999, 2009) and
the Human
Index (HDI).
Well-being is one
of the goals that
individuals should
have the freedom
and agency to
pursue. Happiness
is one of several
aspects of
relevant to a
persons well-
The HDI reflects
achievements in
three basic aspects
of human
leading a long and
healthy life, being
and enjoying a
decent standard of
Political freedom
The capabilities
approach is a means
to assess the
development of
individuals and
Countries around the
Justice and Equity
are key to the
development of
freedom and
The achievement
of social justice
depends not only
on institutional
forms, but also on
effective practice
Having the
freedom and
capability to do
something does
impose on the
person the duty to
consider whether
to do it or not, and
this does involve
(Sen, 1999,
p. 284).
(Sen, 1999,
p. 159).
(Nussbaum, 2006,
2011) and central
Happiness is
framed in the
therefore is seen
as a state of
flourishing given
by an active and
virtuous life.”
Well-being is
understood in
terms of
development of a
set of core
Bodily health
Bodily integrity
Practical reason
Other species
Control over
The crucial good
that societies
should be
promoting for
their people is a
set of
opportunities, or
freedoms. This
entails the
development of
basic, internal, and
The Capabilities
Approach has
typically been
elaborated in the
context of
development policy
(Nussbaum, 2011). It
is, however, also a
means to assess the
achievement of
Emphasis on
social injustice
and inequality,
capability failures
that are the result
of discrimination
should improve
the quality of life
for all people, as
defined by their
The capabilities
approach not only
requires treating
every person as an
end and not a
means; it also
benevolence, and
the exercise of
care for the other,
especially those in
need (Nussbaum,
In contrast with all this, one of the fundamental goals of this chapter is to demonstrate
that no investigation into the nature of the good life can shirk an interdisciplinary perspective.
In particular, in the following pages we will show how combining the contributions of
Community Psychologytogether, in some instances, with its critical variant (see Kagan,
Burton, Duckett, Lawthom, & Siddiquee, 2011; Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010)with the ethos
of Positive Psychology can generate a novel and more comprehensive understanding of human
flourishing. We intend to do this in order to inform academics, practitioners, and activists about
how a novel contextual, justice-oriented, and value-oriented framework can be embedded into
strategies of intervention and promotion of well-being and life satisfaction.
The Limits of Positive Psychology and the Call for Community Psychology
Within the broad literature on the good life, Positive Psychology (PP) stands out as an
avant-garde movement that has championed the promotion of human flourishing since its
inception (Sheldon, Frederickson, Rathunde, Csikszentmihalyi, & Haidt, 2000). PP, in fact, has
been propounding both a salutogenic philosophy and the adoption of scientifically sound
practices for the betterment of human existence, which together promise to overcome the
pathological hallmark of mainstream psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The
prospect of making a meaningful difference to peoples lives has already persuaded a multitude
of psychologists, social workers, and practitioners to jump on the PP bandwagon. With regard
to these issues, both mainstream researchers and new voices within the field of PP have recently
started to advance several proposals of positive social change from justice-oriented and
contextual perspectives (see Biswas-Diener, 2011; Biswas-Diener, Linley, Govindji, &
Woolston, 2011; Marujo & Neto, 2014; Wright & Lopez, 2011) as well as examples of how
values inform the theory and practice of the movement (Lopez & Gallagher, 2009).
Although these few raised voices deserve credit, we must acknowledge that PP in
general has been highly criticized for placing an unduly responsibility on individuals in
determining their life with a narrow sense of socio-contextual determinants, including matters
of power, social justice, and equality (Becker & Marecek, 2008). Furthermore, it has been
condemned as a new kind of ideology that discriminates alternative voices to its dominant
message (B. S. Held, 2004), perpetuates the status quo (Christopher & Hickinbottom, 2008),
and reinstates the current neo-liberal economic and political discourse (McDonald &
OCallaghan, 2008).
We believe that PP and its advocates should be deeply concerned about these issues,
since failing to properly address them has hitherto impaired a full comprehension of how the
movement can best investigate, pursue, and promote the good life. We argue that what hinders
PP most is a subordination to objectivism, whereby overtly declared descriptive (rather than
prescriptive) goals and a neutral stance are put forth whenever happiness and well-being are
examined (see Seligman, 2002, p. 129).
Taking issue with this vision, we argue the need for the contribution of Community
Psychology (CP) to be brought to bear to inform the science and practice of PP, and to get PP
scholars and practitioners to step out of their comfort zone by starting to acknowledge the
intrinsic relatedness between Context, Social Justice, and Values. This attempt follows on from
some recent theoretical endeavours to integrate the two approaches (Kagan, 2015; Neto &
Marujo, 2014), based on the recognition that they are both rooted in a tradition of prevention,
personal growth, self-determination, and wellness promotion (Cowen & Kilmer, 2002;
Schueller, 2009). In the same vein, some of the CP core assumptions identified by Canning
(2011), such as adaptation as the means of development and change, wellness as a focus over
psychopathology, prevention and promotion as priorities over treatment, and collaborative,
empowering helping relationships, share a common ground with the ethos and practice of PP.
However, CP also advocates for social justice, social action, and cultural and human
diversity as means to promote better life conditions not only for individuals, but also for groups,
organizations, communities, and societies (Canning, 2011; Kloos et al., 2012; Nelson &
Prilleltensky, 2010). This last set of assumptions will be our entry point to describe the CP
ethos in more detail and, in so doing, lay out a new vision of wellness promotion for PP and
the literature on the good life.
The Role of Context
In his 2012 film To Rome with Love, Woody Allen portrays the story of a would-be
tenor, Giancarlo, who is endowed with an exceptional singing talent that, unluckily, he can
only produce when soaping up in the shower. After a disappointing audition, owing to the
absence of the only place where he is able to perform well, Giancarlo's impresario arranges for
him to perform in an opera from within a shower cubicle on stage. Of course, this bizarre
premiere turns out to be an outstanding success, ensuring the singer a promising career. This
funny story is an excellent example of how contextual features are able to influence human
endeavours by fosteringor, conversely, hinderingpersonal competences. Under certain
circumstances, the only way to enable people to thriveas in the case of the tenor in the
shower”—is to change their surrounding context, rather than their attitude towards life.
However, even when Context does not play such a decisive role, we think that its
importance should never be underestimated. Conversely, we often fail to understand its
significance. In fact, as Kloos and colleagues (2012) have pointed out, like a fish swimming
in water, we take the context of our lives for granted and as a consequence we tend to
minimize contextual factors and overlook ecological levels of analysis” (p. 140).
This tendency is very much evident in the scientific enquiry into the good life as a
propensity to downplay contextualism, reducing it to a set of characteristics capable of
influencing the lot of humans. The literature is replete with explanations of how contextual
variables and social factors such as marriage, work, health, income, and social relations impact
on happiness and well-being (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Helliwell & Putnam, 2004)
both at the macro-level of society, the meso level of organizations and the micro-level of
individuals (Veenhoven, 2015). However, much less is available in terms of how individual
features and coping strategies are “contextually situated” in historical antecedents, economic
constituents, and political consequences (Cushman, 1990, p. 600).
A fortunate exception is represented by McNulty and Finchams (2012) critique of
Positive Psychology, which show how positive processes such as forgiveness, optimistic
expectations, positive thoughts, and kindnesswhich are normally deemed universally
desirable and beneficial strategies to fulfil ones lifecan either benefit or harm personal well-
being depending on the context in which they operate. In the same vein, Tomasik and
Silbereisen (2009) have demonstrated how diverse environments create conditions in which
people with very similar characteristics might still produce different outcomes. For instance,
demands of social change due to globalization or individualization differ in a systematic way
across ecological niches. A study carried by these authors, which compared coping styles and
life satisfaction in different parts of Germany (Tomasik, Silbereisen, & Heckhausen, 2010),
showed that, against the belief that an active coping style is adaptive in any situation,
disengaging from these demands can even be adaptive when one lives in an economically
devastated area.
These examples are a good point of departure to introduce CP’s contextual vision, since
its approach tries to understand the importance of context for peoples lives and work to
change the environments to be more supportive (Kloos et al., 2012, p. 140). This requires CP
to assume that peoples flourishing is strongly intertwined with the contexts within which they
live and interact (Prilleltensky, 2005, 2012; Schueller, 2009). As Orford (2008) has pointed
At the very heart of the subject is the need to see peopletheir feelings, thoughts, and
actionswithin a social context. It exhorts us, when thinking of peoples health,
happiness and well-being, or when thinking about peoples distress and disorder, to
think context.” (p. xi)
CP’s contextual approach is much evident in its tendency to forgo standardised
interventions and one-size-fits-all solutions in favour of more situated answers. In this regard,
the success of an intervention is assessed in terms of how much stakeholders are engaged in
their own betterment along with their enhanced empowerment to choose among collective and
negotiated pathways to wellness (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010).
In this light, we suggest that PP can benefit from at least three aspects of CPs attention
to Context. First, Positive Psychologists can learn that happiness and well-being are to be
understood from an ecological perspective in that they operate on a multi-systemic
continuum. Thus, well-being is a desideratum not only for individuals, but also for
organizations, communities, and ultimately society at large (Prilleltensky, 2012; Prilleltensky
et al., 2015). In relation to this principle, Prilleltensky has suggested that interventions aimed
at promoting better life conditions must draw on Sites, Signs, Sources, Strategies, and
Synergies of well-being (for a review see Prilleltensky, 2005) as well as encompass
interpersonal, community, occupational, physical, psychological, and economic domains (see
I COPPE model in Table 7.1).
Second, PP must be aware that different contexts contribute differently to well-being,
in terms of objective/subjective and quality/quantity of resources they supply (Kagan & Kilroy,
2007). In particular, in addition to PP’s interest in subjective and cognitive evaluations of life,
CP suggests to draw on objective measures including level of education, literacy, life span, and
income (Schueller, 2009). This means that the impact of an intervention is also measured by it
capacity to change objective life circumstances, which in turn impinge on psychological
Third, the adoption of a contextual perspective entails acknowledging the role that
socio-cultural traditions and practices as well as global forces play in shaping the individual
and collective pursuit of the good life (Christopher & Hickinbottom, 2008). From the CP
perspective this means first and foremost assuming a respectful and non-ethnocentric attitude
towards local, indigenous, non-western, and ethnic populations (Kloos et al., 2012). Moreover,
it invites to be aware of both opportunities and pitfalls for individuals and collective that lie in
a world of fast-spreading globalization, capitalism, and market-driven values (Marsella, 1998;
Natale, Di Martino, Arcidiacono, & Procentese, 2016; Sloan, 2010).
The Role of Social Justice
In his seminal volume Development as Freedom, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen (1999)
made the case that the protective power of democracy to give people the opportunity to develop
and express their life might sometimes pass unnoticed unless a particular staggering problem
arises. This means that, under certain circumstances, only after things start going downhill, the
absence of Social Justice makes people most vulnerable to adversities. In that case, oftentimes
victims not only bear the brunt but are also blamed for lacking the skills, will, and courage to
emerge from their misery (W. Ryan, 1971).
If we transfer this outlook from political economics to psychology, we might notice that
a preoccupation with intra-psychic dynamics and a misplaced emphasis on resilience have led
researchers in PP to ignore the significance of Social Justice-related determinants of the good
life such as income distribution, access to health and education, and availability of life-fulfilling
opportunities (Ehrenreich, 2010; Prilleltensky, 2012). Once again, this vision rests on the
assumption that external conditions are negligible as long as people can rely on their inner
strengths. It is quite telling that PP has provided over the years a plenitude of tools, techniques,
and practices for nurturing flow, positive emotion, character strengths, and meaning (see
Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005), whilst largely omitting to promote the fair
distribution of objective resources and life opportunities for people to develop their full
In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky (2008) offered a prime example
of PPs disinterest in matters of Social Justice, when she went as far as to say that only about
10% of the variance in our happiness levels is explained by differences in life circumstances
or situationsthat is, whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain,
married or divorced, etc” (p. 21). However, this invites the question, What if an individuals
unhappiness stems not from any biological or psychological fault but from the wider
socioeconomic conditions in which they find themselves livingin an area with extreme
deprivation and inequality, say, or a faltering economy?” (Thompson, 2013, p. 428).
In line with Lyubomirskys argument, Seligman toowhen laying out the features of post-
traumatic growthalmost makes the case that anybody, once provided with the adequate
psychological endorsement, can overcome life challenges and even gain a new purpose in life
from negative events (Seligman, 2011). Contrary to this argument, Isaac Prilleltensky (2012)
has warned us that, regardless of our capacity of adaptation, only a minority of people are
capable of overcoming oppression and injustice.
In contrast with PPs unduly optimistic faith in the power of the individual to recover
or even thrive in the face of the most disruptive circumstances, CP has made the promotion of
Social Justice and Social Change as well as the fight against disempowerment, marginalization,
discrimination, and disenfranchisement the core of its mandate for the promotion of the good
life (García-Ramírez, Balcázar, & de Freitas, 2014; Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010).
Furthermore, whereas PP is committed to promoting flourishing wherever optimal conditions
of Social Justice at the individual level are already guaranteed, CP focuses on all other levels
of analysis beyond the individual as well as all those instances where Social Justice is deficient
or missing altogether. Indeed, CP works to fulfil multiple aspects of Social Justice (i.e.,
procedural, distributive, retributive, and cultural) at the personal, interpersonal, organizational,
and communal level of analysis (Prilleltensky, 2012).
In that regard, PP can benefit greatly from Prilleltenskys (2012) work, which is
dedicated to linking variations in well-being levels to different instances of Social Justice.
According to the Well-being Continuum model two conditions of Injustice (Persisting
Conditions and Vulnerable Conditions of Injustice) and two conditions of Justice (Suboptimal
Conditions and Optimal Conditions of Justice) are accountable for variations in well-being.
Persisting conditions of Injustice entail Suffering,” which is characterised by the presence of
psychosocial responses such as oppression and internalization, helplessness, and upward
comparisons. Vulnerable Conditions of Injustice represent the next step on the well-being
ladder. These are responsible for generating Confronting,” a state of affairs characterized by
critical experience, critical consciousness, critical action, and righteous comparison. Coping
is qualified by Suboptimal Conditions of Justice and includes strategies like resilience,
adaptation, compensation, and downward comparisons. Of all these states, only Optimal
Conditions of Justice create the right conditions for people to Thrive.” The strategies
involved in this case, indeed, span across the promotion of responsive conditions, prevention,
individual pursuit, and avoidance of comparisons.
The Role of Values
As touched upon in the introduction of this chapter, the importance of Values for a well-
lived life has been extensively overlooked by the scientific literature on the good life
to a
greater extent than the two previously discussed topics. As Sachs (2013) reminded us in the
World Happiness Report 2013:
We are now returning, step by step, to a broader conception of happiness. Yet . . . the
ethicists are still mostly overlooked . . . modern ethicists, who are generally
overshadowed in the public discourse, have not yet been successful in placing their
subject back on the public agenda. (p. 82)
The absence of a normative value-oriented framework directing people not to pursue self-
related enjoyment in life, but to be concerned over the welfare of others, can be partially
attributed to the rise of values such as personal satisfaction, competition, and striving for
achievement, which are becoming part and parcel of capitalistic and growth-obsessed societies
(Bauman, 2008; Lane, 2000; Natale et al., 2016).
In contrast with this narrative, PP professes value-based and moral strategies of
wellness promotion as part of its mandate. The seminal Handbook of Character Strengths and
Virtuesrelated to the Values in Action (VIA) Institute on Characteris exhibited as the
crown jewels of the PP campaign to put values back on the human flourishing agenda (Peterson
& Seligman, 2004). Likewise, the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology has given new
Philosophy stands out as an undeniable exception. This discipline, indeed, boasts a long-
lasting tradition of reflection on the good life that traces back, at least in the history of
Western thought, to ancient Greece (see Annas, 1993).
prominence to values such as compassion, love, empathy, and altruism in promoting human
flourishing (see Lopez & Gallagher, 2009).
However, PP’s approach is once more undermined by an undue faith in the capacity of
individuals to nurture their own ethical nature. And once again, this outlook ignores the fact
that environmental circumstances can play a strong role in either promoting or hindering the
development of moral instincts. In that regard, Albert Bandura’s work (1999) has provided
extensive evidence of how social bodies and institutions can prompt people to either engage
in, or disengage from, moral conduct.
Therefore, as with Context and Social Justice, we believe that CP has much to
contribute towards PP’s aim to incorporate Values in its theory and praxis. Indeed, CP has put
a premium on ethical and reflective practices (Dalton & Wolfe, 2012). In fact, beyond being
faced with specific ethical issueswhich stem from the very ecological nature of its approach
(Snow, Grady, & Goyette-Ewing, 2000)CP is committed to disseminating moral values,
assumptions, and practices to instil meaning in people’s lives and make society a better place
(Prilleltensky, 1997).
Elsewhere we proposed to equip CP with the Ethics of Care as a novel reference for the
promotion of happiness and well-being (Arcidiacono & Di Martino, 2016). In its latest
development, the Ethics of Care, in fact, integrates both an outlook on Social Justice and an
attention to care for others, collaboration, trust, respect, and reciprocity (V. Held, 1995), which
both fit well with the CP ethos. As much as we believe that a specific kind of ethics is needed
we must acknowledge here that CP has so far preferred to adopt Values,” which “reflect both
individual and group-level beliefs about what is true and what ought to be; they are belief-
It would go beyond the scopes of this chapter to delve into the advantages for CP of
adopting an ethical perspective over and above a value-based approach.
based (like morals) and invoke action and behavior (similar to ethics), but have an aspirational
element that is distinctive (Campbell, 2016, p. 295). Core interdependent values in CP are
self-determination, health, personal growth, social justice, support for enabling community
structures, respect for diversity, and collaboration and democratic participation (Prilleltensky,
2001, pp. 753754).
A second ethical consideration from CP calls for a sustainability-oriented approach, to
ensure that no one enjoys a well-lived existence at the expense of the environment and future
generations (Natale et al., 2016). CP is, in fact, highly committed to upholding norms of
environmental sustainability (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010; Riemer & Reich, 2011). When
referring to the environment, we include both the physical characteristics of the world we
inhabit and the respect we owe both to animate beings and inanimate objects (Nussbaum,
2011). In that regard, CP informs the practice of PP, in that the promise of sustainable
happiness does not merely come down to the “subjective experience and construal of the
world(cf. Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2009), but to a state of affairs that acknowledges the
intrinsic relatedness of personal human flourishing, other people, the environment, and future
generations (Natale et al., 2016; O’Brien, 2008).
These two conditions lay the groundwork for the last one. In fact, pursuing a
eudaimonic life while respecting and furthering the interests of others is intrinsically connected
to actively participating in civic life. As we have shown in the previous pages, Social Justice
is the bedrock for individual and national prosperity. However, we cannot expect Social Justice
to be administered only from the top down. CP values both fair governance as an outlet of
positive outcomes in society and also grass-roots engagement that promotes the betterment of
others and the safeguard of their rights. In other words, CP suggest that Social Justice needs an
ethical ground to thrive (Prilleltensky, 1997), and this can be cultivated only in a lively civic
environment that upholds the common good at the individual, community, and national level.
Therefore, we argue that the well-being of governments, and, ultimately, of society at large,
capitalises on moral-oriented citizens.
As can be seen from other chapters in the present volume (see, for example, Pelletier,
Bellamy, O’Connell, Baker, and Rowe’s description of citizenship interventions in Chapter
29), applied positive psychologists should think about values not only in terms of what is
“desirable” to do, but also as a viable and effective alternative to eliminate symptoms and
increase well-being as well as to facilitate the idea that all human beings can be full and equal
citizens regardless of their racial, social, gender, or physical or mental health conditions.
Final Remarks
The scientific literature on human flourishingwith Positive Psychology at the
forefronthas focused on many important aspects of the good life while overlooking three
main key issues, namely that well-being is distributed along different contexts of analysis,
conditioned by the presence of equal distribution of resources and opportunities, and driven by
a value-based worldview.
By drawing on the contribution of Community Psychology, one of the objectives of this
chapter has been to show not only that these three domains are relevant for a better
understanding of the good life, but also that their intrinsic connectedness is paramount for
planning effective strategies of wellness promotion. We might look at Context, Social Justice,
and Values as a three legged stool; we can try to analyse them separately, but ultimately we
need to put them together if we do not wish the whole structure to collapse. In other words, if
we take into account the role of contextualism in the good life, we must acknowledge that each
contextbeing it individual, communal, or socialprovides different resources and
opportunities. In follows that Social Justice is needed to ensure that the latter are fairly
distributed and accessible to everyone. On the other hand, people cannot expect Social Justice
to be administered only top-down. If anything, a bottom-up approach might be even more
fruitful for promoting individual and social wellness. In that sense, as Prilleltensky (1997) has
cogently summarised:
The good life requires that individuals and communities exercise self-determination.
But in order for individuals to express their self-determination they need . . . . [a]n
appreciation for human diversity . . . caring, compassion, collaboration, and democratic
participation [that] ensure that people cooperate in making choices that do not infringe
on the right of others to pursue their own self-determination. Distributive justice . . . is
[also] crucial. Without sufficient resources, self-determination is meaningless. (p. 521)
Whilst PP can offer CP the large number of empirical instruments it has developed to
measure subjective well-being (Schueller, 2009), we have shown in this chapter that CP carries
the potential of a whole new outlook that is capable of reorienting the way PP investigates and
promotes the good life. In that regard, we aim to make it clear to the reader that we have not
meant to suggest that Positive Psychologists have so far only paid lip service to the promotion
of human flourishing; neither do we ignore their substantial contribution in opening a new path
for scientific inquiry into the good life. However, we cannot ignore the fact that this path has
been quite a sheltered one. It might have exposed the PP movement to the criticism of a few
critics, and to some obstacles to remove along the way of getting recognised as an accomplished
scholarly discipline, yet never to the perils of challenging the status quothat is, questioning
social, economic, and political assumptions both within and outside the realm of psychology
(Kagan et al., 2011; Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010; Prilleltensky, 1994). That is a slippery slope,
which PP has hitherto prudently circumvented, whereas CP has been climbing it since its
This contribution thus invites Positive Psychologists to join Community Psychologists
on the same journey. In order to do so, it offers three useful points of reference. Context, Social
Justice, and Values can and must be integrated into the PP ethos, and as much as this might be
a challenge, we believe that it is a new path worth following for the future of the discipline and
its goal to promote better life conditions.
Francisco José Eiroa-Orosa has received funding from the European Union’s
Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (20142020) under the
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 654808.
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... Although the field has historically mostly focused on individual well-being (Schueller, 2009;Di Martino et al., 2018b), communal and national well-being has also been considered. Seligman has indeed argued that positive psychology aims to create "a psychology of positive human functioning that achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving individuals, families, and communities" (Seligman, 2002, p. 7). ...
... But, the similarities pretty much end there. Community psychologists are very concerned with the impact of sociopolitical conditions on personal, relational, organizational, and community wellbeing; whereas positive psychologists remain largely silent on these issues (Brown et al., 2018;Di Martino et al., 2018b). In addition, community psychologists are concerned with challenging conditions of injustice, whereas positive psychologists are somewhat indifferent to the societal status quo (Di Martino et al., 2018b;Prilleltensky and Prilleltensky, 2021). ...
... Community psychologists are very concerned with the impact of sociopolitical conditions on personal, relational, organizational, and community wellbeing; whereas positive psychologists remain largely silent on these issues (Brown et al., 2018;Di Martino et al., 2018b). In addition, community psychologists are concerned with challenging conditions of injustice, whereas positive psychologists are somewhat indifferent to the societal status quo (Di Martino et al., 2018b;Prilleltensky and Prilleltensky, 2021). Researchers using a community psychology lens seek to integrate context, social justice, and values in their work (Di Martino et al., 2018b). ...
Full-text available
Historically, positive psychology research and practice have focused on studying and promoting well-being among individuals. While positive psychology interventions focusing on the well-being of communities and marginalized groups have recently been developed, studies reporting on their nature and characteristics are lacking. The aim of this paper is to examine the nature of community-level positive psychology interventions. It reviews the target populations, intervention modalities, objectives, and desired effects of 25 community-level positive psychology interventions found in 31 studies. This scoping review shows that community-level programs based on positive psychology vary greatly in all these aspects. However, most interventions are aimed at individual-level changes to achieve target group outcomes. Contextual issues such as social conditions, values, and fairness affecting well-being are rarely considered. Discrepancies between community-level positive psychology interventions and community psychology in terms of values and social change are discussed.
... Wellness is a positive state of affairs, brought about by the synergic satisfaction of objective and subjective needs of individuals, relationships, organizations, communities, and nations (Diener, Scollon, & Lucas, 2009;Prilleltensky, 2012). Subjective needs include perceptions of life satisfaction, pleasurable experiences, and meaningful activities, whereas objective needs include concrete resources such as nutritious foods, housing, and access to health care (Di Martino et al., 2017). Specifically, we adhere to the I COPPE model, according to which wellness consists of satisfaction in interpersonal, community, occupational, physical, psychological, and economic domains of life (Prilleltensky & Prilleltensky, 2006;Prilleltensky et al., 2015). ...
... This is true not only in extreme cases such as oppressive regimes but also for so-called liberal and modern democracies, where the welfare of people is sacrificed for economic growth. In those cases, individuals are held responsible for their own destiny, and social injustice is accepted as a natural fact of life (Di Martino et al., 2017). Under such conditions, the most vulnerable members of society, such as people who are homeless and unemployed, suffer not only from adverse circumstances but also from a dismissive social gaze that questions their worth (Krokstad, 2021;Ryan, 1971). ...
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Whereas the behavioral and health sciences have been mainly concerned with the private good, there is an urgent need to understand and foster the collective good. Without a coherent framework for the common good, it will be extremely difficult to prevent and manage crises such as pandemics, illness, climate change, poverty, discrimination, injustice, and inequality, all of which affects marginalized populations disproportionally. While frameworks for personal well-being abound in psychology, psychiatry, counseling, and social work, conceptualizations of collective well-being are scarce. Our search for foundations of the common good resulted in the identification of three psychosocial goods: mattering, wellness, and fairness. There are several reasons for choosing them, including the fact that they concurrently advance personal, relational, and collective value. In addition, they represent basic human motivations, have considerable explanatory power, exist at multiple ecological levels, and have significant transformative potential. The complementary nature of the three goods is illustrated in an interactional model. Based on empirical evidence, we suggest that conditions of justice lead to experiences of mattering, which, in turn, enhance wellness. Challenges and opportunities afforded by the model at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, occupational, communal, national, and global levels are presented. The proposed psychosocial goods are used to formulate a culture for the common good in which we balance the right with the responsibility to feel valued and add value, to self and others, in order to promote not just wellness but also fairness. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
... Wissing et al. (2018Wissing et al. ( , 2021 further noted that the third wave manifested a deeper exploration and understanding of the dynamics of positives and negatives in well-being experiences, for example, in cultural contexts (e.g., Miyamoto et al., 2017), in the context of illness and suffering (e.g., Delle Fave et al., 2017;Fowers et al., 2017), as well as in interventions aiming to reduce negative symptoms while also enhancing well-being (e.g., Geerling et al., 2020;Hendriks et al., 2020). On an individual level the link between biological and psychological processes in well-being was explored from an interconnectedness approach (e.g., Delle Fave, 2018), and on a social level issues such as justice, values, ethics of care and power relationships in understanding and promoting of wellbeing came into focus (e.g., Di Martino et al., 2017) -highlighting the importance of wider social and political dynamics in health and well-being. On an ecological level, the quality of connectedness to the natural environment for sustainable wellbeing was accentuated (e.g., Helne and Hirvilammi, 2015), and the importance of spiritual connectedness was indicated (e.g., Villani et al., 2019). ...
... Non-physical situatedness such as the social level context of power relationships, justice, values, and ethics of care will increasingly play an important role when planning studies, collecting data, and interpreting of results (cf. Di Martino et al., 2017), as well as the context of spiritual beliefs (e.g., Villani et al., 2019). Although many authors suggested that individual, social, eco-system, and spiritual levels of wellbeing, as well as the connections among levels, need to be taken into account (e.g., Lomas et al., 2015;Galderisi et al., 2017;Harrell, 2018;Warren and Donaldson, 2018;Mead et al., 2021b), few empirical studies had been conducted in this regard. ...
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The positive psychology (PP) landscape is changing, and its initial identity is being challenged. Moving beyond the “third wave of PP,” two roads for future research and practice in well-being studies are discerned: The first is the state of the art PP trajectory that will (for the near future) continue as a scientific (sub)discipline in/next to psychology (because of its popular brand name). The second trajectory (main focus of this manuscript) links to pointers described as part of the so-called third wave of PP, which will be argued as actually being the beginning of a new domain of inter- or transdisciplinary well-being studies in its own right. It has a broader scope than the state of the art in PP, but is more delineated than in planetary well-being studies. It is in particular suitable to understand the complex nature of bio-psycho-social-ecological well-being, and to promote health and wellness in times of enormous challenges and changes. A unique cohering focus for this post-disciplinary well-being research domain is proposed. In both trajectories, future research will have to increase cognizance of metatheoretical assumptions, develop more encompassing theories to bridge the conceptual fragmentation in the field, and implement methodological reforms, while keeping context and the interwovenness of the various levels of the scientific text in mind. Opportunities are indicated to contribute to the discourse on the identity and development of scientific knowledge in mainstream positive psychology and the evolving post-disciplinary domain of well-being studies.
... The positive features of individuals, community, nature, and spiritual forces are conceived as reciprocally balanced and harmoniously intertwined (Igbokwe and Ndom, 2008;Lim, 2009;Huang, 2016;Nwoye, 2017). Overall, these findings point to the need for more accurately contextualizing positive dimensions of mental health (Di Martino et al., 2017). Moreover, they suggest that the interplay between personal and environmental variables in shaping individuals' mental health is multidimensional and often bidirectional (Neyer and Lehnart, 2007;Kern and Friedman, 2011;Friedman et al., 2013). ...
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Worldviews are culturally derived assumptions that influence individual and collective behaviors, values, and representations of reality. The study of mental functions is not exempt from this influence, as reflected in scientific theories, methodological approaches, and empirical studies. Despite acknowledging the interplay of mental processes with developmental, environmental, and cultural dimensions, psychological research is still primarily based on quantitative methods, and on the conceptualization of mental phenomena as unfolding along polarized continua. A lively epistemological debate surrounds this approach, especially underscoring the risk of blurring the distinction between constructs derived from statistical models and real-life processes and experiences. Based on this debate and on recent empirical evidence derived from the positive psychology literature, this paper is aimed at proposing an integrated view of mental health, as a holistically patterned, contextually imbedded, and dynamic phenomenon changing over time and across life events, with harmony, harmonization and dynamic balance as core qualities. The heuristic potential of investigating the qualitative configuration patterns of mental health dimensions across individuals and groups, beyond their position along a quantitative continuum, is outlined. The development of more integrated approaches and methodologies to investigate mental health as a harmonization process, taking into account personal, contextual and developmental features, would be aligned with evidence derived from the integration of traditional nomothetic and ideographic approaches, and other life sciences. However, the development of a transdisciplinary line of research requires further inputs from different epistemological views, as well as higher attention to the potential contribution of different philosophical traditions.
... In this piece, we contend that recent advancements in scholarly research on wellbeing can be meaningfully integrated into the field of climate psychology, an emerging field of psychology that examines the emotional and existential impacts of the unfolding climate crisis. We believe ideas within climate psychology compliment work from other fields including positive, community and environmental psychology, which have produced seminal work concerning individual, collective and planetary wellbeing (see Ryff, 1989;Diener, 2000;Capaldi et al., 2015;and Di Martino et al., 2017 for reviews), supporting understanding and effective responses to the unfolding climate crisis. Our paper begins by highlighting how traditional, western discourses of the nature of human beings and 'mental illness' drive personal dissatisfaction, social isolation, and ecological destruction. ...
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Awareness of climate change can prompt overwhelming emotions that threaten wellbeing such as anger, despair, and anxiety. Neoliberal views of human beings and their mental health strip the individual from their social and material context, driving personal dissatisfaction, social isolation, and ecological destruction. In this piece, we contend that advancements in scholarly research on wellbeing offer valuable insights for addressing the challenges posed by the climate crises while respecting human wellbeing. Such frameworks, which include the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) and the GENIAL model, emphasize the interconnected nature of people, communities, and their environment. In turn, they help to lay the groundwork for the development of ‘post-growth’ societies focused on supporting outcomes such as human wellbeing, social justice, and environmental regeneration. There are a number of different actions that practitioners and even lay individuals can take to promote positive outcomes and effective responses in the face of the climate crisis. These actions, discussed in the concluding sections of the article, aim to foster wellbeing and impactful engagement with the challenges posed by climate change.
... definition of Wong (2020)] which embraces both positivity and negativity [see Lomas et al. (2020)]. The need to include the role and impact of context, social justice and values also belongs to the PP 3.0 as argued by Di Martino et al. (2018), as well as interconnectedness among various levels and domains of human functioning (Wissing et al., 2020). Finally, PP 3.0 multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches can add to the disentanglement (versus the un-doing) of well-being and its complexities (van Schalkwyk and Naidoo, 2021;Wissing, 2022). ...
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The South African government’s COVID-19 pandemic risk mitigation strategies significantly limited social contact, which necessitated a novel approach to existing face-to-face career guidance practices. The Grade 9 Career Guidance Project, originally developed as a group-based career development intervention, required radical adaptation into a self-directed, manualized format to offer career guidance to Grade 9 learners from low-income communities amid a global pandemic. The adaptation and continuation of the project was deemed essential as secondary school learners in low-income communities have limited career guidance support. Furthermore, a close collaboration with the teachers at eight resource-constrained South African secondary schools was vital for successful implementation. To assess the success of the adaptation to a self-directed format, a mixed-methods design was employed, and Life Orientation teachers’ evaluative feedback was solicited (n = 11). Favorable quantitative results were obtained; majority of teachers agreed that learners enjoyed the booklet (manualized format) and that it was deemed an adequate substitute to the previous contact-based format of the Career Guidance Project. This was also confirmed by the qualitative findings revealing teachers’ satisfaction with the booklet’s content, specifically that the booklet is complementary to the Life Orientation curriculum. Qualitative findings identified specific contextual barriers that contributed to some learners struggling to use the booklet optimally. The results suggest that it is feasible and acceptable to implement a self-directed career guidance intervention among secondary school learners amid a global pandemic. Teachers recommended ways to integrate the booklet, resources, and contact sessions as a preferred way forward. These findings have important implications for similar resource-constrained settings that may not have readily access to in-person career guidance and counseling human development.
Spiritual leaders and social reformers have contributed greatly toward creating positive experiences, positive individual traits, and in building positive institutions that have supported healthy and thriving life for the self and others. Social well-being, which encompasses the extent to which individuals view society as meaningful and just, experience of a sense of social belonging, and positive attitudes toward others facilitates healthy functioning of society. However, India’s history is marked by grips of the social inequalities arising from religious dogmas, caste system, grossly unequal distribution of land rights, inferior status of women, and inequalities in access to education that hindered flourishing of the society. The social stratification, as well as the contempt, deprivation, discrimination, prejudice, rejection affected the self-esteem, quality of life, intellectual growth, and overall well-being of the oppressed and hindered the peace and harmony of the society. With the rise of the socio-spiritual awakening, Indian society saw a beginning of a powerful social change movement that worked toward empowering each member of the society, especially the underprivileged. This chapter discusses the implicit connections between some of the most prominent spiritual as well as social reforms, positive psychological practices, and their role in enhancing social well-being. The chapter ends by highlighting the unexplored connecting links between the socio-spiritual awakenings, social upliftment, and social well-being.KeywordsSocial reformsSpiritual movementsMental healthSocial well-beingSociocultural factor
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For a long time, well-being research had been driven from a Western perspective with a neglect of cultural and contextual variables. In this chapter we argue with reference to well-being research as manifested in positive psychology (PP) as a discipline, that contextual, metatheoretical and metadisciplinary perspectives need to be taken into account. Developments in PP over time are described, illustrating the importance of contexts and assumptions in understanding well-being, and how new assumptions in the third wave of PP resonate with old African wisdoms about interconnectedness as a core value in human lives. The first wave of PP focused on advocating for the positive in human functioning, many facets of well-being were differentiated in theory and empirical studies, while assuming a naturalist worldview and that findings from the West are globally applicable. The second wave showed that PP needs to take context, culture and negative facets of human life into account for understanding the nature and dynamics of well-being. The emerging third wave of PP is characterized by the acceptance of a strong relational ontology and trends towards contextualization, interconnectedness and post-disciplinarity. Harmonizing Western and African perspectives are indicated, and specifically also the understanding of well-being as harmony and harmonization. The third wave suggests a move to “well-being studies”, instead of the disciplinary bound “positive psychology studies”—a butterfly leaving its cocoon.
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This manuscript explores the relationship between positive psychology and political philosophy, revealing an inter-disciplinary approach that speaks to the concerns of the common good. Since positive psychology has been expanding its reach into social and political spheres, its relationship to philosophical arguments has been worthy of exploration. Positive psychology is associated with utilitarianism, and aspects of hedonic psychology. However, an alternative concept of eudaimonic well-being has enabled this psychology to have links to other political philosophies. Therefore, this manuscript provides an overview of contemporary political philosophies: first, it discusses the debate between liberalism and communitarianism, and secondly, it summarizes the subsequent developments of liberal perfectionism, capability approach, and deliberative democracy. Then, the configuration of these political philosophies is indicated by the figure of two axes of “individual/collective” and “ethical/non-ethical.” The following section compiles the inter-relationships between the conceptions of citizenship, justice, and well-being, regarding the main political philosophies: egoism, utilitarianism, libertarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, and conservatism. Utilitarianism is associated with happiness, while liberalism and libertarianism rely on the concept of rights, which is almost equal to the idea of justice. Accordingly, utilitarianism is a philosophy of well-being, while liberalism and libertarianism are philosophies of justice. However, there is little connection between well-being and justice in these philosophies because the two kinds of philosophies are incompatible. The latter kind criticizes the former because the maximization of happiness can infringe on people’s rights. Moreover, these philosophies do not particularly value citizenship. In contrast, communitarianism is intrinsically the political philosophy of citizenship most attuned to increasing well-being, and it can connect an idea of justice with well-being. The final part offers a framework to develop an inter-disciplinary collaboration. Positive psychology can provide the empirical basis of the two axes above concerning political philosophies. On the other hand, the correspondence makes the character of political philosophies clearer. While libertarianism and liberalism correspond to psychology as usual, utilitarianism and communitarianism correspond to positive psychology, and the latter can be regarded as positive political philosophies. This recognition leads to the interdisciplinary framework, enabling multi-disciplinary collaboration, including work with the social sciences, which could benefit the common good.
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This special issue of the Journal of Psychosocial Intervention aims to contribute to the understanding ofhuman well-being as a matter of social justice. Inequities in health and well-being are closely linked tosocial inequalities and addressing them involves the improvement of the quality of life and living conditionsof communities. Although reaching a more just society requires systemic changes, actions aimed at groupsthat are at greater risk of multiple vulnerabilities must be intensified in order to reduce the slope of thesocial gradient of health and well-being. Community psychology embraces as one of its key principles toadvocate for social change through the empowerment of disadvantaged groups, such as children and youthliving in poverty, women suffering violence, people with disabilities and elderly immigrants. Thecontributions of this monograph offer courses of action for a scientific agenda whose goal is to provideopportunities for all individuals to achieve meaning and greater control over the resources they need fortheir well-being and prosperity.
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This chapter reflects upon the bridges that need to be constructed between positive psychology and community psychology, promoting what already is a new hybrid field full of potential, which dwells upon values, and rethinks research and intervention as transformative-appreciative processes. The invitation to integrate different models, in particular from economy, social and community psychology, and education, paired with the importance attributed to a discussion on principles that guide researchers and the questions they ask, is rooted in a historical and critical perspective regarding the field of positive psychology. The vision for the future is also based upon the need to carefully and ethically address topics such as happiness when enrolling populations that live in poverty or are marginalized and excluded. Paulo Freire’s concept of conscientization is a way out to use positive psychology with the socially wounded, while helping them to become aware and conscious of their own strengths, as much as their life constraints. The works of Donna Mertens and David Cooperrider also provide a grid to support new ways of investigating. The authors are the editors of the book, Luis Miguel Neto and Helena Águeda Marujo.
Content & Focus Counselling, positive and community psychologies have a lot in common and overlapping values and goals. I outline here the focus of community psychology on those marginalised by the social system and the values and key concepts that underline community psychological praxis. The values of stewardship, justice and community are outlined and their implications for practice drawn out. Key community concepts are discussed, including the emphasis on social change and an action orientation, working with the ecological metaphor, the psychological sense of community, and the idea of new social settings. The four key strategies for change that follow are: the furtherance of critical consciousness; the creation of new forms of social relations or settings; the development of alliances and accompaniment; and advocacy and policy analysis. Conclusion I argue that central to all community psychological work is critical reflection and that synergies can be found in research and practice with greater integration of community, counselling and positive psychology.
This book approaches the field of positive psychology from a post-modern perspective. It explores the consequences of combining current trends and models with supplementary participatory and transformative methods. The book brings a more collective, qualitative, culturally sensitive and transformative approach to the processes of making sense and implementing the science of positive psychology. It moves beyond the individual level towards a “knowledge community” and “knowledge of the communities”. The book is an invitation to more participatory and polyphonic dialogues in the field of positive psychology.
The Collected Works of Ed Diener, in 3 volumes, present the major works of the leading research scientist studying happiness and well-being. Professor Diener has studied subjective well-being, people’s life satisfaction and positive emotions, for over a quarter of a century, and has published 200 works on the topic, many more than any other scholar. He has studied hundreds of thousands of people in over 140 nations of the world, and the Collected Works present the major findings from those studies. Diener has made many of the major discoveries about well-being, which are outlined in the chapters. The first volume presents the major theory and review papers of Ed Diener. These publications give a broad overview of findings in the field, and the theories of well-being. As such, the first volume is an absolute must for beginning scholars in this area, and offers a clear tutorial to the history of the field and major findings. The second volume focuses on culture. This volume is most unique, and could sell on its own, as it should appeal to cultural psychologists and anthropologists. The findings in the culture area are mostly all derived from the Diener laboratory and his students. Thus, the papers in this volume represent most of the major publications on culture and well-being. Furthermore, this is the area that is least well-known by most scholars. The third volume on measurement is the most applied and practical one because it discusses all the measures used, and presents new measures. Even for those who do not want to study well-being per se, but want to use some well-being measures in their research, this volume will be of enormous help. Volume 1: Gives a broad overview of findings and theories on subjective well-being. Volume 2: Presents most of the major papers on well-being and culture, and the international differences in well-being Volume 3: Presents discussions of measures of well-being and new measures of well-being, and is thus of great value to those who want to select measurement scales for their research Endorsements Over the past several decades Professor Diener has contributed more than any other psychologist to the rigorous research of subjective well-being. The collection of this work in this series is going to be of invaluable help to anyone interested in the study of happiness, life-satisfaction, and the emerging discipline of positive psychology. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology And Management, Claremont Graduate University Ed Diener, the Jedi Master of the world's happiness researchers, has inspired and informed all of us who have studied and written about happiness. His life's work epitomizes a humanly significant psychological science. How wonderful to have his pioneering writings collected and preserved for future students of human well-being, and for practitioners and social policy makers who are working to promote human flourishing. David G. Myers, Hope College, and author, The Pursuit of Happiness. Ed Diener's work on life satisfaction -- theory and research -- has been ground-breaking. Having his collected works available will be a great boon to psychologists and policy-makers alike. Christopher Peterson, Professor of Psychology, Univ. of Michigan By looking at happiness and well-being in many different cultures and societies, from East to West, from New York City to Calcutta slums, and beyond, Ed Diener has forever transformed the field of culture in psychology. Filled with bold theoretical insights and rigorous and, yet, imaginative empirical studies, this volume will be absolutely indispensable for all social and behavioral scientists interested in transformative power of culture on human psychology. Shinobu Kitayama, Professor and Director of the Culture and Cognition Program, Univ. of Michigan Ed Diener is one of the most productive psychologists in the world working in the field of perceived quality of life or, as he prefers, subjective wellbeing. He has served the profession as a researcher, writer, teacher, officer in professional organizations, editor of leading journals, a member of the editorial board of still more journals as well as a member of the board of the Social Indicators Research Book Series. As an admirer of his work and a good friend, I have learned a lot from him, from his students, his relatives and collaborators. The idea of producing a collection of his works came to me as a result of spending a great deal of time trying to keep up with his work. What a wonderful public and professional service it would be, I thought, as well as a time-saver for me, if we could get a substantial number of his works assembled in one collection. In these three volumes we have not only a fine selection of past works but a good number of new ones as well. So, it is with considerable delight that I write these lines to thank Ed and to lend my support to this important publication. Alex C. Michalos, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., Chancellor, Director, Institute for Social Research and Evaluation, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Univ. of Northern British Columbia
In this article, we provide an overview of what various philosophers throughout the ages have claimed about the nature of happiness, and we discuss to what extent psychological science has been able to substantiate or refute their claims. We first address concerns raised by philosophers regarding the possibility, desirability, and justifiability of happiness and then turn to the perennial question of how to be happy. Integrating insights from great thinkers of the past with empirical findings from modern behavioral sciences, we review the conditions and causes of happiness. We conclude our discussion with some thoughts about the future of happiness studies. © 2008, Association for Psychological Science. All rights reserved.
In the 50 years since the 1965 Swampscott conference, the field of community psychology has not yet developed a well-articulated ethical framework to guide research and practice. This paper reviews what constitutes an "ethical framework"; considers where the field of community psychology is at in its development of a comprehensive ethical framework; examines sources for ethical guidance (i.e., ethical principles and standards) across multiple disciplines, including psychology, evaluation, sociology, and anthropology; and recommends strategies for developing a rich written discourse on how community psychology researchers and practitioners can address ethical conflicts in our work.