First seminar in the ESRC Politics of Wellbeing series to take place today

The first seminar in the new ESRC Seminar Series on The Politics of Wellbeing takes place at the Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences (ICOSS), University of Sheffield, today.

The series, led by Ian Bache (Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield, Karen Scott (Lord Richard Percy Fellow, Newcastle University) and Charles Seaford (Head of the Centre for Wellbeing, new economics foundation), aims to identify and communicate the distinctive contribution the politics discipline can make to the wellbeing debate and policy development in the UK and beyond.

There has been a dramatic rise of international and national policy interest in wellbeing, quality of life and happiness research, and particularly in the measurement of wellbeing for public policy purposes. This has intensified in the context of the financial crisis as politicians and policy-makers grapple with new policy goals and political narratives while pursuing economic and employment growth.

The UK is at the forefront of developments with David Cameron announcing in November 2010 that wellbeing measures developed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) would be used for public policy purposes. The ONS has since made data available to policy-makers and the Treasury has adjusted its Green Book guidance to government departments in response.

Wellbeing as a concept and as policy has been researched and debated extensively in other fields, however, the discipline of Politics has been largely silent. In this context, the primary aim of this seminar series is to bring Politics into dialogue with other disciplines and with policy-makers.

The seminar series consists of six Events|News staged over two years: five seminars (of academic and non-academic participants) and a concluding one-day conference. The collaboration with SPERI for one of the later seminars will be crucial in allowing to engage with a political economy take on developments.

Speakers at the first seminar include: Paul Allin (Visiting Professor, Imperial College and former Head of the National Wellbeing Programme at the Office for National Statistics); Paul Anand (Professor of Economics, Open University); Ewen McKinnon (Wellbeing and Civil Society Policy, Analysis and Insights Team, Cabinet Office); and Louise Reardon (Department of Politics, University of Sheffield)

Further details can be found on the project website: