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Eudaimonic Well-being: A Gendered Perspective

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

In this chapter we attempt to present a nuanced approach to eudaimonic wellbeing by considering it from a gendered perspective. Beginning with a discussion on two traditions of wellbeing – hedonic and eudaimonic – we briefly overview some literature on the similarities and differences for women and men on indices of wellbeing. Stemming from the position that gender differences in wellbeing are generally equivocal, we consider key methodological and philosophical issues that may enhance our knowledge on eudaimonic wellbeing from a gendered perspective. The development and validation of psychometrically sound measurement instruments – including examination of gender invariance – openness to explore eudaimonic wellbeing from a more social constructivist philosophical worldview, and embracing a fluid conceptualization of gender have merit for advancing this research area and furthering our understanding of wellbeing from a gendered perspective.

Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Wellbeing
  • Eudaimonia
  • Gender

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Our presentation of gender differences in well-being stems largely from a perspective of gender categorized as either “woman” or “man”. In this chapter we adopt this simplified gender division because many researchers examining eudaimonic well-being have employed this dichotomy. That said, we acknowledge that gender is a fluid construct that goes beyond these categories. In the “moving forward” section of our chapter we offer potential avenues for future research to focus on the conceptualization and operationalization of gender in the well-being literature.

  2. 2.

    Given the scope of this chapter and our decision to focus on certain conceptualizations of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, we have not outlined results from literatures that extend beyond these conceptualizations of well-being. Indeed, our intent was not to provide an exhaustive review of the literature on gender differences across a wide range of well-being indicators. Rather, we hoped to provide a “highlight reel” of some general trends in the literature that are specific to hedonic and eudaimonic well-being to generate discourse. Those who are interested in broader contexts of well-being may wish to extend their review of gender differences to other conceptualizations of well-being. For example, gender differences have been noted on social integration and distress in the workplace (Pugliesi, 1995), as well as on self-esteem, happiness, and loneliness among older adults (Pinquart & Sörensen, 2001).

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Erica V. Bennett for her guidance and insightful comments regarding the fluidity of gender when investigating well-being.

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Correspondence to Leah J. Ferguson .

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Ferguson, L.J., Gunnell, K.E. (2016). Eudaimonic Well-being: A Gendered Perspective. In: Vittersø, J. (eds) Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_28

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_28

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