Wellbeing: Critical Social Perspectives Research Cluster

Wellbeing has become a buzzword nationally and internationally, including amongst policymakers concerned with health, ageing, young people and work. However, critical social and cultural perspectives on wellbeing remain limited. It is this gap that our small group of researchers is currently exploring, while also contributing to larger debates on the indicators and contributing factors for wellbeing.

This research cluster is exploring the promotion of wellbeing for policymakers and a wide range of stakeholders concerned with health, ageing, young people and work. The cluster brings together academics from Sociology, Human Geography, Legal Studies, Aboriginal Studies, English, and Rural Health.

Our team is interested in responding to the popularity of the concept of wellbeing in three key ways: (i) examining indicators of wellbeing and assessing what they are actually measuring in diverse social contexts, e.g. ageing, youth, health, work; (ii) analysing the impact of wellbeing discourses and measurements on social and political inequalities, i.e. what does the concept of wellbeing ‘do’ in policy and practice; and, (iii) analysing how ‘wellbeing’ is mobilised differently across various socio-cultural settings.

In short, developing more critical angles on the use and promotion of wellbeing is urgently needed and this is our key focus.

For further information, please contact Associate Professor Katie Wright

Past Events

Special seminar - Wednesday 30 October

We were very pleased to welcome Professor Kristiina Brunila (University of Helskini) to La Trobe University for a special seminar in October 2019.

A summary of Professor Brunila's presentation is below:

From Welfare to Wellbeing – the politics of Finnish education

The penetration of psychological and therapeutic models into Nordic welfare state policies and their implementations have followed the emergence of an influential set of policy rationales stressing the economic imperatives. This trend is marked out by a more general shift of policy agendas where the former stress on welfare regimes is replaced for a stress on individual wellbeing. In my talk, I present an analysis of how the Finnish government positions the issue of wellbeing, and its related packages from other policy fields and their outcomes in education.

Kristiina Brunila holds a professorship in Education and Social Justice in the University of Helsinki where she directs AGORA for the Study of Social Justice and Equality Research Centre. She has published widely about knowledge formations in education politics, psy-knowledge, therapeutic ethos, vulnerability, marketizing and privatizing policies, governmentality, inequalities, and global/local network governance.