CONSUMER CAPITALISM’S CONDUCIVENESS TO HAPPINESS: A FACADE OF FREEDOM

Open Access
Author:
Singer, Jeffrey Andrew
Area of Honors:
Risk Management
Degree:
Bachelor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Peter Mhando, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brett Ambrose, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Happiness Economics
  • Philosophy
  • Critique of Capitalism
  • Income and Well Being
Abstract:
Modern day consumer capitalism has created unprecedented economic growth, wealth, and prosperity. However, while incomes have risen, individual well-being has not followed. This paper looks at the economic, social, and political institutions which foster conditions that I will argue, are unconducive to human freedom and human happiness. Easterlin’s paradox, within the contemporary literature on happiness economics, displays that rising income, does not necessarily translate to improved well-being. Through mass commercialization, failed measures of well-being, and a flawed education system, economic prosperity is guised as an ultimate end above all else. By viewing other economic and political systems throughout the world, I propose new indicators of well-being, as well as an alternative education system, one which promotes critical inquiry, communal emphasis, and greater autonomy. This proposal aims at guiding a more critical understanding of how one’s perception of reality is constructed, as well as the illusory promises of capitalist systems.