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"How to be happy” according to Cosmopolitan: The metaphors of happiness at the service of positive psychology and neoliberalism ideology

  • Gomez, Lucia
Publication Date
Jul 05, 2020
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The metaphorical representation of happiness in the women’s magazine industry appearsto be of particular interest at the moment. Indeed, different political, social andeconomic actors have made happiness become one of the main objectives of Westernsocieties, both at the individual (self-fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness) and at thecollective (workplace wellness, well-being of society) level. However, beneath theselaudable ideals, and despite their altruistic, apolitical and ideology-free appearance,there lies a discourse that pursues very clear objectives of benefit only to certaininterest groups [Illouz & Cabanas 2018]. The women’s press represents a privilegedsource in the understanding of the expectations faced by women [Blandin 2018]and, perhaps in a more general way, by individuals in a particular culture. Finally,the metaphors used enable us to analyze certain thought patterns specific to somediscourses [Charteris-Black 2004]. The aim of this paper is thus to understand howhappiness is represented metaphorically in Cosmopolitan magazine and to determinewhether this representation corresponds to an ideological agenda. A corpus-basedanalysis of the metaphors of happiness used in the Cosmopolitan magazine has beenconducted. The results show that most of these metaphors can be categorized accordingto six conceptual patterns related to the notions of ‘strength’ and ‘limit’. Themetaphors of happiness found in this corpus are shown to be ideologically chargedand strongly related to positive psychology and neoliberal ideology.

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