Exploring compatibility between “subjective well-being” and “sustainable living” in Scandinavia

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Abstract 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 wellbeing 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.
ArtikelnummerDOI 10.1007/s11205-014-0684-9
TidsskriftSocial Indicators Research
Udgave nummer122: 175-187
Sider (fra-til)175
Antal sider187
StatusUdgivet - 2014


  • sustainabililty

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