The imperative of happiness in positive psychology : Towards a psychopolitics of wellbeing

Alex Romaní Rivera*, Ana Gálvez-Mozo*, Francisco Javier Tirado Serrano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Positive Psychology has reconstructed how we understand happiness. The practices and discourses it presents to perform that reconceptualization appear as if free from political interest or intentionality. However, this article will show that its proposals define a subtle new form of government which we will call Psychopolitics. Instead of placing the population or the body of the citizen at the centre of political struggles, it focuses on the psyche. Through an extreme defence of positive emotions and happiness as the key to a good life, Positive Psychology promotes a type of friendly power relations, which instead of punishing motivates and empowers the individual's creativity. To illustrate all of this, we conducted a case study with a Positive Psychology training course taught in a Spanish state university. Content analysis was used to explain the recurring themes and practices of this new discipline of positivity, showing how health is redefined around the happiness axis, and how happiness becomes an individual responsibility. We conclude that all these dimensions are simply a categorical definition of a new type of power relations which may characterise the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101058
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Psychopolitics
  • Emotional capitalism
  • Happiness
  • Positive psychology
  • Wellbeing


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