Recipes for Happiness: a Proposal for Analysing the Moral Orientation of Actions and Emotions



Paraules clau:

happiness, emotions, social norms, social behaviour, rules of feelings, morality.


This paper draws up a proposal for analysing discourses on paths to happiness. Recipes promoted by the happiness industry are studied as moral guidelines for social action: imperative messages spread through the Internet seek to guide their recipients in their quest for happiness. In a field
dominated by positive psychology, we approach happiness from a sociological perspective, which is to say as: an institutionalised social discourse; a form of social production; a socially-framed emotion. Research is based on systematic Internet observation and on quantitative and qualitative textual analysis procedures. We show how digital media in the ‘happiness’ field: (a) promotes recipes; (b) provides scientific legitimation for said recipes; (c) focuses on a generic individual as the recipient of the messages and as protagonist. A typology is proposed based on the meaning, nature and object of the actions that lead to happiness. Results show how recipes involve normative and moral orientations of actions and emotions: they indicate what to do and how to think and
feel to be happy. Happiness as a moral obligation involves most concerns shaping the agenda of contemporary societies, with a strong emphasis on individualism and on a utilitarian understanding of social relations and the social environment.


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Biografies de l'autor/a

Alberto Martín Pérez, Universitat de Barcelona

Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Barcelona. He has a doctorate in Sociology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de Paris and the Complutense University of Madrid. His main lines of research are in the fields of Political and Citizenship Sociology and The Sociology of Emotions

José Antonio Rodríguez Díaz, Universitat de Barcelona

Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Barcelona. He has a PhD in Economics and Sociology from Yale University. His current research and publications focus on the role of social media in organisations and society, studies of the future, and the social dimensions of happine

José Luis Condom Bosch, Universitat de Barcelona

Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Barcelona. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Barcelona. He has taken part in many research studies as a methodologist and is a consultant in survey design and analysis. His current research focuses on the development of new digital methods for the analysis of organisational fields.

Aitor Domínguez Aguayo, Universitat de Barcelona

Associate Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Barcelona. He has a degree in Sociology from the University of Barcelona and a Master's degree in Psycho-social Research and Intervention from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He is currently developing his doctoral thesis on body, masculinity and happiness.


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Com citar

Martín Pérez, A., Rodríguez Díaz, J. A., Condom Bosch, J. L. and Domínguez Aguayo, A. (2021) “Recipes for Happiness: a Proposal for Analysing the Moral Orientation of Actions and Emotions”, Debats. Revista de cultura, poder i societat, pp. 13–28. doi: 10.28939/iam.debats-en.2021-1.