Culture And Emotion Essay: A Hope For Happiness University Of New South Wales, Arts2874 Essay

2069 words - 9 pages

Essay: A Hope for Happiness
As stated by Ahmed “Everybody wants to be happy. There is probably no other goal in life that
commands such a high degree of consensus”. The general consensus of happiness, is that
happiness is considered to be a positive emotional state or wellbeing that is constantly the object of
our pursuit. In today’s society, the hegemony of Capitalism, has had an influence on the social ideals
of happiness and the ways to attain it. Ahmed argues in ​The promise of happiness,​ that the idea of
happiness, is essentially a culturally and socially produced notion, which we strive towards. Using
extracts from Hage’s ​Against Paranoid Nationalism ​to extend upon this idea, Hage proposes that
hope is the human condition that pushes us to attain the socially and culturally produced ideals of
happiness, by giving us the will to persevere and continue our pursuit towards it. The purpose of this
essay is to argue that the interaction between culture and emotion, specifically the socially and
culturally produced notion of happiness and the emotion of hope, is a social fact. This would be
dubbed as the process of hoping for happiness. To illustrate the interaction between hope and
happiness, the essay will firstly discuss what happiness and hope is, before linking the two concepts
through theory and an example. I would also assess the process and the implication that emerge
from this.
Ahmed’s idea of happiness, within the process of hoping for happiness comes from the quote
“Attributions of happiness might be how social norms and ideals become affective, as if relative
proximity to those norms and ideas create happiness” (Ahmed 2010:12). This implies that happiness
is defined as a socially and culturally produced notion, because it is attributed to norms and ideas
created by society. It’s considered to be an object of our pursuit because the ability to conform to the
social norms and ideas, allows for happiness to be created. It’s what gives humans “purpose,
meaning and order” (Ahmed 2010:1) in their lives. She continues to state “Happiness depends on
other forms of capital (background, personality networks) as well as acquiring or accumulating
capital for the individual subject” (Ahmed 2010:11). This demonstrates that this social and cultural
construct can be normative, as it produces certain ideas of objects, behaviours and biographies,
which are associated with the attainment of happiness for the individual. Therefore, Ahmed’s
argument suggests that happiness can only be achieved, when the individual tries to embody these
certain social biographies and behaviours and try to attain objects with connotations of happiness.
This demonstrates the sociality of happiness, as a social and cultural construction, which influences
members of society.
In conjunction, the idea of hope that Hage describes in ​Against Paranoid Nationalism​, is that hope is
an aspirational state of feeling, thinking and behaving, which is associated with the expectation...

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