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Ethical capital - The Burden of Happiness

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 02 March 2011

The British government is seeking to develop a way to accurately measure the happiness of the population. In France such a gauge already exists, but is happiness really the proper goal of life? The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner tells Laurie Taylor that happiness has become a burdensome duty, and that the wave of enthusiasm for pursuing the nebulous quality has the opposite effect of actually promoting unhappiness amongst those who seek it. Much better, says he, to accept that happiness as an unbidden and fragile gift, arrives only by grace and luck.
Also on the programme, Patricia Drentea talks about her new study 'Ethical Capital: What's a Poor Man Got to Leave?'. It looks at the hoped for legacy of people who have no financial assets to leave their families.
Producer: Charlie Taylor.

  • Patricia Drentea

    Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1150 USA
    Main Switchboard: (205) 934-4011

    Paper: Ethical capital: ‘What’s a poor man got to leave?
    Beverley Williams, Lesa Woodby and Patricia Drentea
    Sociology of Health & Illness Vol. 32 No. 6 2010 I
    SSN 0141–9889, pp. 880–897
    doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01246.x

    Find out more Patricia Drentea
  • Pascal Bruckner

    Novelist, Philosopher and author of Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to be Happy

    Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to be Happy
    Publisher: Princeton University Press
    ISBN-10: 0691143730
    ISBN-13: 978-0691143736

    Find out more about Pascal Bruckner


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