Family theme parks, happiness and children’s consumption From roller-coasters to Pippi Longstocking
Sammanfattning: This book provides an ethnographic contribution to research on children’s consumption, family life and happiness. Various and shifting notions of happiness are explored, as well as conditions for and challenges to happiness, through an analysis of video-recorded interviews and mobile ethnography conducted in two of the most popular theme parks in Sweden. Initially, the study outlines how previous research has conceptualized happiness in association with time and place in a rather static way. Based on a treatise of notions of happiness in philosophy and the social sciences, there is a turn in this thesis towards practice. It generates fundamental knowledge about the complexity of happiness. By employing this approach, it is possible to highlight how happiness is enacted as part of and in relation to ideals of family life, time, childhood, money, consumption, experiences and material things. As we explore the practices of children and their families, we discover that shifting meanings of happiness are located in contemporary culture, where emotions and consumption are of central importance.The approach is interdisciplinary, and draws on theoretical and methodological contributions in sociology, anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Notions of meshwork and enactment become important for the exploration of happiness as a complex and changing matter, which productively involves social relations and material things. Throughout the thesis there is a dialogue with previous research on happiness, consumption and childhood which highlights the importance of exploring messy practices, in movement. It is argued that explorations of practice contribute to a critical understanding of how happiness and contemporary ideals of childhood can be approached – through consumption and as part of citizenship in a consumer society where happiness is of central importance.
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