Talk at IPPR on politics of well-being this Thursday lunchtime

I'm doing a talk at the Institute for Public Policy Research this Thursday from 12.30 to 1.30, on 'Democratizing the politics of well-being'. There's some blurb below. Come along, it would be great to see you there:

Democratizing the politics of well-being

Free lunch-time discussion on Thursday 14 June, 12.30-1.30, IPPR, 4th Floor, 14 Buckingham Street, London WC2N 6DF

The politics of well-being is a new political movement that has grown up in the last 15 years and led to some concrete policies, including the huge expansion of talking therapies in the NHS and job centres, the introduction of ‘emotional intelligence’ classes into the national curriculum, a resilience-training programme for the entire US Army, and the launch of national well-being measurements in UK, France and other countries.

The movement is an interesting fusion of ancient Greek and Buddhist philosophy, modern psychology and public policy. It emphasises Aristotle’s idea that the aim of politics should be the cultivation of the virtues and the flourishing of individuals and communities - an idea recently espoused by Ed Milliband’s policy review coordinator, Jon Cruddas. Its leading figures on both right and left include Geoff Mulgan, Matthew Taylor and James O‘Shaughnessy (three former heads of the Number 10 policy unit), as well as Richard Layard, Anthony Seldon and the American psychologist Martin Seligman.

Jules Evans has covered this movement as a journalist for the last five years, including in his new book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, which was described as ‘a wonderful book’ by Richard Layard, perhaps the principal architect of the new movement. He will outline some of the key achievements and challenges for the movement, and warn in particular of an over-centralised structure where scientific experts define well-being and then force ordinary people to fit into their definition.

He will argue that we need to find the right balance between scientific evidence and open-ended ethical reflection and discussion, and suggest the important role for grassroots discussion clubs and a revival of the New Left’s vision of community education. He will also suggest that think-tanks can and should connect more with community discussion groups.

Jules is policy director at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London, and co-organiser of the London Philosophy Club. He has written for publications including Public Policy Research, The Times, Spectator, Wired, New Statesman, Prospect and The New Inquiry. He blogs at