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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.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing

Abstract

A sense of belonging or connection to others has been seen as a fundamental need by social scientists across time. This connection to others leads to positive outcomes in almost every domain and sport is no exception to this rule. In the world of team sports, connecting to others has a huge impact on both performance and satisfaction and is essential for success. The following paper will discuss: the roots of the concept of belonging; the application of belonging to sport; a potential framework for understanding individual and environmental factors of belonging; implications of the impact of belonging for athletes.

In: Journal of Belonging and Human Connection

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.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing

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.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing

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.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing
Volume Editors: , , and
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.
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Abstract

Emotion is a key part of what makes us human. We are indeed “creatures saturated by feelings” (, p. 1). This chapter explores the relationship between ‘emotional intelligence’, ‘resilience’ and ‘wellbeing’ – three concepts that are closely intertwined. This chapter describes the three concepts individually and then looks at the link that exists between them. The literature provides ample evidence that emotional intelligence is conducive to wellbeing (, p. 153). This chapter shows how emotional intelligence, most particularly the abilities to recognize emotions and to regulate them in self and others, contributes to resilience and provides the necessary tools that allow us to face adversity confidently and with courage. Emotional intelligence contributes to our ability to appraise situations in a constructive way, resulting in better outcomes and heightened wellbeing.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing

Abstract

Family wellbeing is looked at as a multi-dimensional concept comprising the physical, social, economic and psychological wellbeing. These different elements in families are dynamic in nature and are in turn also shaped by social, economic, political and psychological processes in society. Local research indicates that similar to other countries in the world, heterogeneity in Maltese couple relationships is the mark of the 21st century. What seems to be constant however, is that being in a warm and supportive couple relationship is associated with the highest level of life satisfaction. This also applies to parent-child relationships. Income adequacy is discussed as a major predictor of life satisfaction. Other major wellbeing concerns include public health issues such as obesity, alcohol consumption and the high incidence of circulatory diseases. Finally worry over poor air quality also has an important influence on Maltese families’ wellbeing.

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing
In: Perspectives on Wellbeing
A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need. Alarmingly, research tells us that a significant portion of the population feel lonely and like they don’t belong. Loneliness has become an epidemic and people in adolescence and old age groups are at risk. Having a sense of belonging has widespread physiological and psychological benefits, with positive outcomes that transcend the lifespan, and possibly generations. The need to belong is common for all people irrespective of culture, race, ethnicity, geography, or location.

The aim of this journal is to present contemporary research on belonging, human connection and loneliness and draw together transdisciplinary approaches and theoretical orientations to address a burgeoning issue of our time. A secondary aim of the journal is to highlight how detrimental a lack of belonging is for psychological and physical functioning. The Journal of Belonging and Human Connection (JBHC) is a direct response to a critical issue and seeks to provide a platform for which we can begin to address it.

For questions and/or submissions please contact the Editors-in-Chief Kelly-Ann Allen or Christopher Boyle.