Social Indicators Research

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 175–187 | Cite as

Exploring Compatibility Between “Subjective Well-Being” and “Sustainable Living” in Scandinavia

  • Karsten Bruun HansenEmail author


Dramatic climate changes are predicted if present-day social practices in affluent societies are not changed, but the challenge is that scarce knowledge exists about how to motivate people for social practice changes in everyday life. Preconditions for neccesary lifestyle changes seem to be in place: subjective well-being (Subjective well-being comprises in this paper; (1) “hedonic well-being”, characterized by materialistic oriented values, such as; material possessions, -pleasure, -comfort and positive emotions, and (2) “eudaimonic well-being”, such as; meaning in life, feelings of vitality, personal flourishing, and social relations.) in Sweden, for example, has stagnated for the well-off middle and upper classes since the 1980s. In some of the most affluent welfare societies in the world, well-off persons have trouble finding meaning in life, eudaimonic well-being (EWB), although levels of hedonic well-being have grown continuously. Apparently economic prosperity is not a key factor providing meaning and personal flourishing. Based on social constructivist theory, this paper reveals leisure time as a important sources providing EWB in terms of shaping frames for existential meaning, personal flourishing and social interaction. However, the topic is complex; social norms and intrinsic contra extrinsic oriented values are discussed in relation to what people see as the good life and a sustainable everyday living (In terms of lowering present personal CO2 emission levels with 60–90 % in affluent Scandinavian societies, e.g. by working shorter work hours and practice a less consumption based everyday life. See further definitions under Sect. 3.), as time affluence, leisure time, at the expense of material affluence, provides a smaller personal carbon foot print. Finally it is discussed if sustainable living is a means for increased EWB or if it is correlated the other way around, due to the finding that frames facilitating EWB is an important precondition for transition and learning processes in direction towards a more sustainable everyday living.


Leisure time Eudaimonic well-being Sustainable living 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Metropolitan University CollegeCopenhagen NDenmark

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