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Edited by Peter Charles Taylor and Bal Chandra Luitel

Transforming Saudi Educators’ Professional Practices

Critical Auto/Ethnography, an Islamic Perspective

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Naif Mastoor Alsulami

Viewing Curriculum as Possibilities for Freedom

An Ndo’nkodo of My Research Path

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Emilia Afonso Nhalevilo

Where Do I Come From? What Am I? Where Am I Going?

How the Grandson of a Mahayana Buddhism Priest Became a Science Educator

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Hisashi Otsuji

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Edited by Sue Vella, Ruth Falzon and Andrew Azzopardi

The study of wellbeing is not new. Over two millennia ago, the Ancient Greeks were already debating different conceptions of the good life, and how it may be fostered, albeit a debate for the privileged in ancient Greek society. More recently, the post-WWII concern with economic scarcity gave way – as prosperity rose in the later 20th century – to values such as personal growth and social inclusion. In parallel, research has increasingly turned its focus to wellbeing, going beyond traditional measures of income, wealth and employment. Greater attention is now paid to the subjective experience of wellbeing which, it is broadly agreed, has many dimensions such as life satisfaction, optimal functioning and a good quality of life.

Perspectives on Wellbeing: A Reader brings together a number of chapters that examine wellbeing from different disciplinary perspectives. A number of the chapters take the angle of human flourishing, looking at the respective contributions of belonging, emotional resilience, spirituality, prosocial behaviour, literacy and leisure. Others look at wellbeing through a social relations lens, including family relations, youth, persons with disability and gender. Finally, a chapter on wellbeing and economics illustrates different approaches to measuring wellbeing and identifying its determinants. The book concludes with a chapter that argues for the enduring importance of the welfare state if the wellbeing of all is to be ensured.

This book is likely to be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences as well as to a general readership.

Contributors are: Angela Abela, Andrew Azzopardi, Paul Bartolo, Marie Briguglio, Amy Camilleri Zahra, Joanne Cassar, Marilyn Clark, Ruth Falzon, Vickie Gauci, Ingrid Grech Lanfranco, Natalie Kenely, Mary Anne Lauri, Marceline Naudi, Claudia Psaila, Clarissa Sammut Scerri, Sandra Scicluna Calleja, Barbara Stelmaszek, Sue Vella, and Val Williams.

Belong and Flourish – Drop Out and Perish

The Belongingness Hypothesis

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Paul Bartolo

Abstract

This chapter sets out the research evidence that highlights the social nature of human beings. It first describes psychological theory about a positive sense of self-esteem as the foundation of one’s wellbeing. It then shows how one’s sense self-esteem is in turn based on one’s feeling of being accepted and esteemed by others. This human sensitivity to inclusion and exclusion by others is elaborated in ‘the belongingness hypothesis’. An account is then given of social neuroscience experiments using fMRI showing how people are highly sensitive to being left out even in simple computer games, and how social pain is registered in the brain in a similar fashion to physical pain. Similarly, research shows how human wellbeing is enhanced while the impact of stress and illness is reduced through connections with others. In conclusion it is suggested that a community that aims to enhance the wellbeing of its members needs to promote inclusive structures and processes.

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Joanne Cassar and Marilyn Clark

Abstract

Leisure is a multidimensional construct, encompassing both personal and social factors. Subjective and social wellbeing are mutually dependent and are intertwined in ways that affect one another through dynamic processes. Participation in leisure has repeatedly been linked to a reduction of stress, which in turn leads to an increase in overall health and life satisfaction. This chapter discusses why leisure is one of the most important components of social wellbeing that contributes to a sense of social belonging. Leisure could however also work to constrain leisure opportunities in the face of unequal social relations and risk-taking behaviours that compromise community wellbeing. We argue that leisure practices are often embedded in relational, social contexts, which go beyond individual differences and preferences and are affected by economic, political, racial, cultural and social factors. The chapter also argues that leisure relations are always political. Firstly, leisure is located in the symbolic space between freedom and control. Secondly leisure provides the possibility for contestation of mainstream norms and the accommodation of alternative lifestyles.

Dis/Empowerment under Patriarchy

Intimate Partner Violence against Women

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Marceline Naudi and Barbara Stelmaszek

Abstract

This chapter presents the concept of dis/empowerment in the context of women victims of intimate partner violence, identifying the act of violence against women as a product of a patriarchal society. The chapter suggests the idea that empowerment is a stepping stone into power, an ability to act or control one’s life, that exists within people and communities, that is shared and transferred among members of society, all the while moving between layers of the individual and the collective. The chapter includes a description of the project Stronger Together as an example of the individual impact on the collective. The collective, or community, however does not exist in a vacuum, but is located within patriarchy itself, and therefore the circle of disempowerment and empowerment happen all in one place, raising the question as to whether cultivating individual power based on one’s subjective needs is truly possible from the place where we stand.

Disabled People and Social Wellbeing

What’s Good for Us Is Good for Everyone

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Val Williams, Amy Camilleri Zahra and Vickie Gauci

Abstract

Speaking about social wellbeing means focusing on an individual’s wellbeing not only on a personal level, but also on a social level. It involves considering the individual’s opportunities to be with others, to form healthy relationships, and to engage in various activities with others in the mainstream of society. The concerns of the disabled people’s movement, and of the discipline of Disability Studies which developed from that movement, are very similar, dealing as they do with the social aspects of disability. This is because the concept of wellbeing has been colonized and suffused with a non-disabled, often overly therapeutic discourse. This chapter will focus on how the concept of social wellbeing has been used (directly and indirectly) in disabled people’s struggle for recognition of their right to be an integral part of society and in the discipline of Disability Studies itself.