New Barriers and Continuing Constraints
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette
Chapter 9: Perceptions of Quality of Life: Gender Differences Across the Life Course
Jacqueline Scott, Anke C. Plagnol and Jane Nolan INTRODUCTION The study of quality of life is in the ascendancy. As the evidence becomes clearer that increasing the purchasing power of citizens does not automatically increase their sense of well-being, there is new interest in how quality of life is perceived. If it is not merely money and good health that matter, then what else is important for the ‘good life’? Recent decades have seen a convergence of interest in quality of life research by economists, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers (for example Sirgy et al. 2006). Philosophers have tended to focus on the abstract principles or, more often, the difficulties of arriving at principles that might help guide people’s pursuit of happiness. A crude summary of the philosophers’ position is that it is tough for people to know what makes a good life. Social scientists are more modest in their aims and tend to focus on the range of so-called ‘goods’ that may contribute to quality of life. The economists and sociologists are interested in not only how these are distributed across the population, but also how they change across time. The range of possible ‘goods’ is very wide and includes health (Wilkinson 1996), employment (Gallie 1996), money (Easterlin 2001), time (Gershuny and Halpin 1996), status (Marmot 2004), environment (Bliss 1996) and so on. Among the most important of these ‘goods’ are those that are found in the private sphere, particularly in terms of relationships with friends and family. The notion...
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