The Politics of Wellbeing

ESRC Conference at Sheffield Town Hall, Friday July 17 2015

Conveners: Prof Ian Bache (Sheffield University), Dr Karen Scott (Newcastle University) and Charles Seaford (New Economics Foundation)

This conference concludes the ESRC seminar series on The Politics of Wellbeing ( The central purpose of the seminar series is to define and develop the contribution of the politics discipline in relation to wellbeing – a concept and policy area that has been researched and debated extensively in the fields of economics, psychology, sociology, geography and others. Interest in the politics of wellbeing has intensified in response to the dramatic rise of national and international policy activity on wellbeing, quality of life and happiness, and particularly in how wellbeing indicators might be used to guide public policy. The seminar series has not only brought politics into dialogue with other disciplines but also stimulated debate between academics and policy-makers.

Plenary speakers confirmed:

  • Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the Political Studies Association
  • Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber and Chair of the European Parliament Development Committee
  • Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick and ex- Member of the Stiglitz Commission on Measuring Human Progress
  • Conal Smith, Senior Economist, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

In addition there will be panel sessions with 21 papers across a range of topics.

Registration for this event is free and is now open. We can cover the costs of UK-based travel and one night’s accommodation (for those with a journey of over three hours). For further details of the seminar series or contact Professor Ian Bache (

To register, please click the link below.

Submitted abstracts are available in a word document if you click here. Papers explore questions such as: Is the aim of wellbeing policy to produce stable states with settled citizens or to challenge the status quo? Can we use wellbeing as a basis for policy judgements or evaluations? What are the issues of legitimacy? Does wellbeing offer a chance to engage people in politics more? What are the implications for democracy? How does wellbeing relate to electoral politics? What are the prospects for wellbeing as a central goal of government policy?

The full conference programme is available here. The abstracts that correspond to the individual panel sessions are available here.

For copies of powerpoint presentations for each presentation, please click here. Please note that not all presentations/papers have been uploaded yet, so only some will be available to download. If you have any questions/problems, please get in touch.

A full attendance list for the conference is available here.

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