I’m Happy, Hope You’re Happy Too.
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While most empirical studies show stable and high levels of subjective well-being in Western societies, other studies have documented an apparently contradictory feeling of a loss of sense of community and high levels of discontent with the way society functions. Based on an analysis of the Social Cohesion Indicators survey (SCIF, Belgium), we demonstrate that subjective well-being and one’s view on society are two distinct concepts. Both measurements are related, however, with some spill-over effects from individual well-being toward the assessment of society. Most notably, ethnocentrism does not have an impact on subjective well-being, but it has a strong negative impact on the view on society. Ethnocentrism has a strong effect on the distribution of discontent with society. We hypothesize that ethnocentric actors might still be satisfied with their own living conditions, but that they feel increasingly alienated from the culturally diverse society they live in.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Belgium Ethnocentrism Alienation SCIF survey
A first version of this paper was presented at the 17th World Congress of Sociology, Göteborg (Sweden), 11–17 July 2010. We thank the panel participants and the anonymous reviewers of this journal for their constructive comments on the paper. This research received generous funding as part of the ‘Social Cohesion Indicators in Flanders’ network.
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