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Being well together : individual subjective and community wellbeing.

Atkinson, S. and Bagnall, A-M. and Corcoran, R. and South, J. and Curtis, S. (2020) 'Being well together : individual subjective and community wellbeing.', Journal of happiness studies., 21 (5). pp. 1903-1921.


This paper explores the ways in which community wellbeing is, and could be, related to individual subjective wellbeing by mapping current practice, teasing out the assumptions underlying a dominant approach and flagging neglected issues. The notion of community is widely understood as about something more than the sum of the parts. Capturing subjective aspects of local life that are not simply individual but reflect the ways in which people feel and are well together is a challenging undertaking. Most existing frameworks for assessing community wellbeing are premised on a theory of the self as an autonomous, rational and independently acting or feeling individual, and the primary interest is on how community aspects of life impact on individual subjective wellbeing. This dominant approach consistently neglects spatial and social inequalities, multiple settings and scales and temporal choices and legacies, all of which constitute important political dimensions to community wellbeing. Social theories of the self as relational put relations as prior to subjectivity and as such afford ways to conceptualise community wellbeing in terms of being well together. A relational approach can also offer routes to tackling the complex interactions of inequality, scale and time. Such an approach is not, however, easily translated into quantitative measures or simple policy interventions. The approach taken to community wellbeing is not a technological issue but a political choice.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Date accepted:21 June 2019
Date deposited:26 June 2019
Date of first online publication:13 July 2019
Date first made open access:No date available

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