Skip navigation
Hardcover | $16.95 Trade | £11.95 | ISBN: 9780262028240 | 152 pp. | 4.5 x 7 in | October 2014
Ebook | $11.95 Trade | ISBN: 9780262322881 | 152 pp. | October 2014
About MIT Press Ebooks

Lurching Toward Happiness in America


The promise of America has long been conceived as the promise of happiness. Being American is all about the opportunity to pursue one’s own bliss. But what is the good life, and are we getting closer to its attainment? In the cacophony of competing conceptions of the good, technological interventions that claim to help us achieve it, and rancorous debate over government’s role in securing it for us, every step toward happiness seems to come with at least one step back.

In Lurching toward Happiness in America, acclaimed sociologist Claude Fischer explores the data, the myths, and history to understand how far America has come in delivering on its promise. Are Americans getting lonelier? Is the gender revolution over? Does income shape the way Americans see their life prospects? In the end, Fischer paints a broad picture of what Americans say they want. And, as he considers how close they are to achieving that goal, he also suggests what might finally get them there.

About the Author

Claude S. Fischer is Professor of Sociology at University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character, and, most recently, Still Connected: Family and Friends in America Since 1970.


“Still, some of his digests are pointed and clever, such as his description of the difference between people who tie happiness to time spent outdoors and strengthening “personal relationships” and those who emphasize more jobs and more pay: “sort of Seattle Democrats versus Youngstown Democrats.” And when Fischer goes more in-depth—for example, when he dissects the function of leisure-time and paid vacations—he’s terrific.”—Publishers Weekly