Return to search

Understandings of well-being in public health policy

'Well-being' is a word that has appeared in policy documentation and academic papers with increasing frequency during the last few decades. However, it is far from clear as to what the word means or to what it refers, and it is the existence of that ambiguity that constitutes the rationale for this study. My general strategy for dealing with the observed obscurity was to investigate the available academic and policy literatures, and explore how those involved in policy formation and development configured and deployed the word well-being in their written and spoken discourse. To that end, I collected multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data. My primary data involved the collection of 17 semi-structured interviews with academics and policy makers engaged with the study of well-being. My secondary data were derived from a study of 591 randomly selected academic papers drawn from six separate fields of inquiry. I analysed my data using various quantitative and qualitative techniques, including modified forms of content analysis and thematic analysis. Three key discoveries emerged from the research. First, the word well-being, which appears with increasing frequency across academic and policy discourse, has become increasingly 'psychologicalised'. Contemporary explanations perceive well-being as an epiphenomenon, which arises from the dialectical relationship between the availability of resources and a person's ability to use these capitals for personal betterment over the life course. Second, the word appears to function as a useful political, boundary object. In this respect, it is able to conscript others - individuals, departments, agencies, and organisations - into taking responsibility for well -being. Third, multiple interpretations of well-being abound in academic and policy discourse, and while we have yet to reach consensus on a definition of well -being, there is agreement that it is a phenomenon, which is capable of measurement and quantification.
Date January 2014
CreatorsWilson, Joanne Elaine
PublisherQueen's University Belfast
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

Page generated in 0.0019 seconds