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'Unhappy news': the construction of happiness as a social problem in UK newspapers

Frawley, Ashley (2012) 'Unhappy news': the construction of happiness as a social problem in UK newspapers. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86496) (KAR id:86496)


Interest in happiness has seen an unprecedented growth in both popular and scholarly writing, in the mass media, and has been institutionalised into the policy and practice of a wide array of institutions. Both implicit and explicit in this rising interest is the notion that happiness re presents a serious problem requiring the intervention of a range of professional and political powers. The rapid and widespread affirmation that claims about happiness have received warrants critical examination. This study examines the construction of happiness as a socia l problem in four major UK newspapers, from the perfunctory evocations of the past to the present-day project of redefining the id iom as the legitimate domain ,of expertise and campaigns to bring it to the forefront of public debate. With theo retica l too ls drawn from the constructionist study of social problems and methodological tools garnered from qualitative media analysis, it examines the roles played by various claimsmakers in the construction of the problem and the rhetoric mobilised in support of their cause. It offers important insights into the ascendance of happiness onto the public agenda and identifies some of the underlying cultural currents on which claims about happiness draw and

which make it a particularly powerful idiom th rough which to conceptualise contemporary social problems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86496
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:54 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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