A Marxian approach to wellbeing: Human nature and use value

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The resurgence of well-being as a political priority, object of research interest and individual life goal appears to redress the excesses of capitalism and the dominance of economic growth as the marker of success and progress. However, despite its rediscovery being driven in part by a critique of capitalism, well-being has also proved amenable to furthering accumulation and individualistic consumption. Paradoxically, many interpretations and applications of the term wellbeing do not challenge neoliberal economic perspectives and practices but are complementary to them. In this chapter I draw on the work of Karl Marx, particularly his early writings, to develop a critical Marxian approach to wellbeing, exploring the possibilities and limitations of such an approach. Marx considered the organisation of work and society under capitalism to alienate human beings from their essential human nature replacing the pursuit of wellbeing with the pursuit of wages and wealth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Modern Guide to Wellbeing Research
EditorsBeverley A. Searle, Jessica Pykett, Maria J. Alfaro-Simmonds
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781789900163
ISBN (Print)9781789900156
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021

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