Happy Homes, Happy People, Happy Society?

22 Jan 2021

The relationship between domestic life and happiness at both the personal and the societal level is even more relevant during the global crisis that has confined people to their homes and required them to incorporate within the home environment even activities previously carried out in other realms. 

The words “home” and “family” can be defined in many ways by different people in different societies at different points in history.  Yet any definition would necessarily include some conception of source, of basis, of starting point.  As homes change, so does society, and vice versa. The Home Renaissance Foundation (HRF) seeks to shed light on the ways homes can best accommodate changing social mores for the benefit of their members, who will in turn contribute valuable human capital to every corner of society.  The Social Trends Institute has been privileged to support HRF over the course of three experts meetings focusing on different aspects of the experience of home.

The Happy Homes, Happy Society meeting investigated the connection between well-being and homes, taking into account home-based activities, housing conditions, personal relationships and wider social interaction.

Seven experts presented original work on varied aspects of home life.  Lord Layard, a labor economist who has specialized in happiness research, in his keynote speech, emphasized the need for institutional policy support to families.  María Pia Chirinos argued that the caregiving activities proper to the home environment constitute important work and should be so considered by society. Stephen Davies expanded on the relationship between the physical layout of homes and the reigning domestic ideals of different eras.  Maria Bakarjieva explored how the boundaries between public and private spheres have fluctuated as digital media have become ubiquitous. Bridgette Wessels also investigated how “connected homes” influence the ways homes function internally and outwardly.  Agnieszka Nogal offered a philosophical framework with which to connect homes and public spheres. Lastly, David Thunder went beyond the walls of the home to focus on the role of neighborhoods in preparing individuals to participate responsibly in social life beyond the home. 

Due to pandemic-related constrictions, the papers were presented online.  They will be followed up by online workshops in which the authors debate their topics with academics from the corresponding discipline.  Additionally, papers selected by the Scientific Committee from the greater scholarly community will be invited for debate, with the potential of being included in the final published volume.