Thursday, 7 May 2009

Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?

Digging around in the lower depths of my inbox, those bits and pieces that came and lay unloved for many months, I found this essay announcement, with abstract:

Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?
By Jaime L. Napier and John T. Jost

In this study, researchers drew on system-justification theory and the notion that conservative ideology serves a palliative function to explain why conservatives are happier than liberals. Specifically, in three studies using nationally representative data from the United States and nine additional countries, researchers found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective well-being and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In a third study, they found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality.

(To read the article, go here, though you will need to subscribe or purchase the article.)

Just to summarise, conservative are apparently happier than liberals because they have in-built defences so that they don't feel bad about others' suffering. In Kleinian or more general object-relations terms, we might say that they are more successfully splitting; in particular, splitting feeling (and the capacity to empathise) from thought (i.e. the ideological justification for continuing to support a system that perpetrates inequality).

This is then evidence -- now apparently backed up by appropriately 'scientific' studies -- for a long-held
belief amongst a number of psycho-social thinkers that capitalism is psychopathological; schizoid, as a Kleinian might say. (Others, of different psychoanalytic persuasions, of course had different diagnostic categories, but they most often arrived at a similar conclusion.)

Such assessments are regarded unfashionable by some nowadays, but surely this gives us license to carry on with our speculations?

(NB: these studies were obviously conducted pre-crash -- I wonder if the results would be different were they to revisit these subjects?)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Conference Annoucement/CFP

Call for Papers

The Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society
2009 Annual Conference:
Psychoanalysis, Economy, and Limits
Rutgers University: October 9-10, 2009
Submissions due by July 1, 2009.

This conference will address the intersection of psychoanalysis and the economy in light of the question of limits. Now when the enactment of an unlimited market economy has paradoxically revealed its limitations, the time has come to investigate the implications of psychoanalysis for thinking about economy and its limits. We are seeking proposals that investigate what psychoanalysis—both in its theoretical and clinical forms—can offer for an understanding of this intersection. Please think broadly about issues that arise in your discipline in relation to these questions. Topics might include:

Ø The possibilities for psychoanalytic interventions in the economy

Ø The economy of psychoanalysis as a theory or as a practice

Ø The economy in media studies

Ø Negotiating budgetary constraints and financial restrictions in psychoanalytic work

Ø The relationship between the infinite and the finite in psychoanalysis

Ø The other as a limit or the limitations of otherness

Ø New clinical, cultural, or theoretical interventions on the relation between psychoanalysis and limits

Ø Negotiating the limits of intellectual work in the struggle for social justice

Ø Psychoanalytic responses to economic crisis and anxiety

Ø The economy of race and ethnicity

Ø Psychoanalysis and the possibility of economic justice in a time of neoliberal hegemony

Ø How the economy might be politicized

Ø Contemporary investigations into feminism and psychoanalysis relative to the economy

We are particularly interested in panel proposals or roundtables that discuss these issues and also invite you to think of alternate formats that promote discussion.

Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words.

APCS, an interdisciplinary psychoanalytic organization, encourages all participants to reflect on the social importance of their contribution and its relationship to social justice. It is our view that the psychoanalytic investigation of culture and society constitutes a unique and indispensible means not only of understanding but also of intervening in our most serious social problems, and we encourage proposals that work to further this project.

For updates, see: