For this week’s podcast I spoke to Will Davies about his work on the strange convergence between economics, psychology, happiness and “wellness”. He is a Reader in Political Economy at Goldsmiths and co-director of the Political Economy Research Group. A lot of what we discussed were issues and ideas related to his books The Happiness Industry and The Limits of Neoliberalism and he has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Statesman, and The Atlantic amongst others.
Some of the early economists and proto-psychologists who Will mentioned were William Stanley Jevons and perhaps most influentially Jeremy Bentham. He also briefly discussed Wilhelm Wundt’s development of the first psychological laboratory and psychophysics approach of Gustav Fechner.
He also mentioned Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek who suggested markets are a bit like laboratories as we create data through transactions in the market, computer called price system and market was only available computer.
I mentioned the introduction of a “social credit” system introduced in China in which people are given a score based on their online and offline interactions and behaviour which determines their access to services which is called “Sesame Credit”.
One of the potential practical ways in which Will suggested the critiques in his book could be taken forward was through “social prescribing”.