Happiness and Domestic Life

I hope you have been able to rest and are eagerly and enthusiastically getting back to the routine in your homes. As we have already announced, our latest book ‘Happiness and Domestic Life’ was released at the end of August.

Before I tell you what it is about, allow me on behalf of HRF to thank STI for supporting us in getting this work off the ground, Routledge for their confidence once again, this is our third book with them, and all the academics who have contributed, editors and authors who will be appearing throughout the text.

As editor María Teresa Russo explains in her introduction, this book aims to provide a mainly conceptual framework for the relationship between the quality of domestic life and the home environment (family relationships, technical tools, housing style, household chores) and individual and social happiness, especially in the context of current changes.

Two important factors determining the issue of happiness and well-being have themselves been affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic: the relationship between an individual’s quality of life and engagement with his or her community, and the role of new technologies in everyday life.

The authors highlight, from different perspectives, that happiness has a clear relational character and it is essential for its promotion that it is the central pillar of the family environment. Three dimensions of psychosocial well-being in the home are analysed: the personal, which consists of a sense of stability, intimacy and sharing; the social, which considers the domestic environment as a place for civic education; and, in times of pandemic, the place of professional and physical activity, which consists of spaces, services and architectural styles.

The themes addressed by experts from different countries and disciplines (sociology, architecture, philosophy, education, economics, ethics) fall into four thematic axes. The first focuses on happiness between the private and public spheres from a philosophical and psychological point of view. The authors of this section (Nogal; Chirinos; Gawkowska) propose a model in which home and care, notions that have vulnerability and human relationality as a common thread, are valued as two indispensable elements for individual and social well-being.

The second section analyses the role of digital media and domestication in fostering domestic well-being from a sociological point of view (Bakardjieva; Wessels; Malagrinò). The analysis focuses on the changes in activities, relationships and roles in the home when digital media become deeply and intimately embedded in the spaces and rhythms of the home.

The third examines the home as a place of work, care and creativity, from an educational and anthropological point of view, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (Díaz, Martín-Sierra and Herrero; Farrell; De Nardo; Grau-Grau, Selvam and Cavallotti). The three traditional approaches to happiness (momentary happiness, subjective well-being and eudemonic well-being) are analysed in relation to the paid work activity that the COVID pandemic transferred to the home, and the more intense family life during the period of confinement.

Finally, the fourth section highlights factors that contribute to supporting happy and functional homes, from the architectural and sociological perspectives of architecture and sociology (Davies; Thunder and Serrano-Núñez; Al-Thahab). These include the physical layout and design of houses, the contrast between tradition and innovation, and social relations in the neighbourhood as a means of bringing families into the life of the wider society.

These issues lend themselves to further fruitful empirical research: we hope that this book will provide a valuable conceptual basis for development in different directions.

This book is both an important milestone in the study and policy of the home’s vital contribution to wellbeing, and a key read for anyone concerned with the true value of home.

Newsletter June 2022

Dear friends,

As we reach the midpoint of the year and summer holidays approach for many of us, we are grateful that 2022 has allowed a long-awaited return to more normal days. For HRF this has meant that we have been able to meet in person once more, both with our own team and our research partners – we have been glad of virtual communication but it is very good to be in the same room again.

Since the Easter Newsletter, I would like to highlight our Communication Report: The Impact of Technology in the Home.  Our work, both through our 2021 publication  The Home in the Digital Age and this recent report, has allowed reflection on how the fundamental values of the home are being challenged by technology. The testimonies of experts, academics, engineers, teachers and parents have helped us to shed real light on the incorporation of technologies into our lives.

Related to this, earlier this month HRF participated in an event hosted by the Family Watch Foundation in which we were asked to share the main ideas of our work in this area. It is a great joy to serve as an inspiration to other associations with concern for the life of the home.

Also in June, HRF was represented at the UN Experts Meeting in Cairo by our patron Professor Mohammed Gamal Abdelmonem,  Chair in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University. The meeting in preparation for the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Families was an opportunity to share our vision and to connect with experts from the Middle East and North Africa. It is important for HRF to have a seat at the table where decisions affecting homes and families across the world are made. I would like to thank Professor Abdelmonem for his generous contribution in terms of time and expertise on behalf of HRF.

Our activities continue; our new publication Happiness and Domestic Life will be published by Routledge this autumn (available for pre-order on July 29, 2022, item will ship after August 19, 2022) and our next Experts Meeting The Home and Displaced People will take place in Washington DC this September. More information to follow soon.

As summer begins I hope that you will be able to find time for rest and for family, and to also take time to enjoy and treasure all that our homes mean to us.

Bryan K. Sanderson