In recent years, with the emergence of ‘happiness studies’, an increasing number of investigations of subjective wellbeing, satisfaction and quality of life have been published across disciplines. Such studies frequently include cross-cultural comparisons designed to examine, for example, whether Americans are happier than Europeans, or whether marriage contributes to happiness in a similar way in Sweden and Germany. However, whether such cross-cultural comparisons are feasible and under what circumstances remain hotly debated questions. While most researchers in psychology, sociology, political science and economy take it for granted that cross-cultural comparisons are feasible and meaningful, cultural anthropologists are divided on this issue.
In order to probe and perhaps bridge this disciplinary gap and find common ground, we brought together experts in happiness research from various disciplines and different cultural contexts. In November 2011, we held a two-day workshop at the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) , to make initial steps towards a multi-disciplinary approach combining quantitative and qualitative perspectives. The gist of it is summarized in this special issue, in which we aim to shed light on the complex interrelations of wellbeing and cultural context.
Open access: International Journal of Wellbeing 2 (4)