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Cultures of Optimism

The Institutional Promotion of Hope

Authors: Bennett, Oliver

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About this book

What are the functions of optimism in modern societies? How is hope culturally transmitted? What values and attitudes does it reflect? This book explores how and why powerful institutions propagate 'cultures of optimism' in different domains, such as politics, work, the family, religion and psychotherapy.

About the authors

Oliver Bennett is the author of Cultural Pessimism: Narratives of Decline in the Postmodern World. He is Professor of Cultural Policy at the University of Warwick and founding editor of the International Journal of Cultural Policy.
 

Reviews

"A brilliant diagnosis of what optimism is and what it does in every aspect of human society, Bennett's book is a bold trans-disciplinary statement which clearly and vividly illustrates a crucial but very under-appreciated fact: the human being is essentially an optimistic animal." - David Inglis, University of Exeter, UK

"Bennett's Cultures of Optimism is a ground-breaking work on hope and optimism, topics that have been unduly neglected in sociology and cultural studies. Bennett exhibits impressive range as he explores the development and transmission of hope and optimism in politics, family life, the workplace, religious communities, and other cultural institutions. Best of all, he presents new theories and cutting-edge research in a style that is engaging and illuminating for all of us. This book will both ignite and set a high standard for future work on hope and optimism." - Sam Newlands, University of Notre Dame, USA

"Hats off to Oliver Bennett for this wide-ranging treatment of what makes us look forward positively in life. By addressing 'cultures of optimism' across some of the most fundamental institutional frames of our life experience, he has certainly broken out of any conventional corral of cultural policy and greatly extended how we might think about this field. This promises to be a significant cross-disciplinary and really thought-provoking book." - Philip Schlesinger, University of Glasgow, UK

"What makes Bennett's approach both original and distinctive is its application of modes of analysis from the humanities to a range of topics usually deemed to lie outside their sphere of competence. One of his concerns exploring optimism as a cultural 'policy' is especially rich, revealing cultural policy to be in fact a meta-discipline alongside, but quite distinct from, cultural studies and cultural history." - David Looseley, University of Leeds, UK

"Following Oliver Bennett's pioneering work on cultural pessimism, it is perhaps not surprising that he should turn his attention to the nature of optimism and hope. Arguing that the importance of institutions in processes of cultural transmission has gone largely unrecognised, the author analyses the role of institutional arrangements in the propagation of optimism. The exposition in this highly original work traverses an impressive range of disciplines including philosophy, psychology, sociology, comparative religion and organisational behaviour. The result is an elegantly written book that will appeal to a wide audience, from the specialist scholar to the general reader." - David Throsby, Macquarie University, Australia

"Oliver Bennett offers an accessible, cross-disciplinary survey of how philosophers, social scientists, religious authors, and popular writers think about hope, optimism, and related states. The primary focus throughout, however, is on the way that cultural institutions seek to promote a kind of hopefulness or optimism in their members. Bennett's probing analysis shows that this 'optimism imperative' in contemporary culture can at times be a double-edged sword." - Andrew Chignell, Cornell University, USA

"The strongest thesis of the book answers a fundamental need for humans, 'as essential as the air which we inhale': we all need to live a healthy mental and physical life, to believe in a better future, to hope for it at least, even a little. This 'optimism imperative' exercises an action on the way individuals act and behave in the present and appears as a condition of their wellbeing in all considered societies It is an interesting thesis, to which we subscribe. [I] wish to underlin[e] not only the interest of the book but also the quality of its language: simple, clear and removed of all academic jargon all the more praiseworthy, as the territories measured by Oliver Bennett are fertile in technical languages, which are made more or less accessible to the layperson." Martin Laurent, University of Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle USPC, France, International Journal of Cultural Policy, 08.07.15

"In his new study, Cultures of Optimism: The Institutional Promotion of Hope, Bennett explores how institutions like democratic politics, the workplace, family, religion, and psychotherapy promote and reproduce 'cultures' of optimism The breadth of research Cultures of Optimism draws on is impressive, and the study deftly synthesises the salient points in organised, readable chapters that elucidate the institutional promotion of optimism through these various contexts Cultures of Optimism is an important study that has laid the groundwork for future analysis on hope and optimism in cultural studies and is sure to inspire further work in these areas." Sarah Bernstein, University of Edinburgh, Uk, Forum, Issue 20, Spring 2015

"It is a rare occasion to read a book in which one learns so much about a wide variety of cultural policies that inform everyday life. Oliver Bennet's Cultures of Optimism is such a work. Based on an incredible mastery of scholarship in a number of disciplines, Bennet presents a carefully balanced and nuanced analysis of the insistence upon an optimistic outlook as a central component of the institutional cultures of contemporary society. As noted, Bennet's range is impressive and the arguments put forth for optimism are evaluated carefully Bennet's sympathetic, but critical, attitude about optimism provides a refreshing look at a complex, but typically unchallenged, normative ethos." - Kevin V. Mulcahy, Louisiana State University, USA, The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 45:3, 216-217


Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook 56,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-48481-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover 83,19 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-48480-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
Softcover 72,79 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-349-50357-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Cultures of Optimism
Book Subtitle
The Institutional Promotion of Hope
Authors
Copyright
2015
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright Holder
Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-48481-9
DOI
10.1057/9781137484819
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-48480-2
Softcover ISBN
978-1-349-50357-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
IX, 231
Topics

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