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Chinese Discourses on Happiness$
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Gerda Wielander and Derek Hird

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455720

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455720.001.0001

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Smile Yourself Happy

Smile Yourself Happy

Zheng Nengliang and the Discursive Construction of Happy Subjects

(p.106) 5 Smile Yourself Happy
Chinese Discourses on Happiness

Derek Hird

Hong Kong University Press

A vibrant discourse linking happiness and well-being to zheng nengliang正能量‎ (“positive energy”) has emerged in China since 2012. Drawing from a variety of disciplines and cultural resources, including positive psychology and ancient cosmological notions, zheng nengliang as a discursive practice is inseparable from wider processes that connect emotional intelligence and happiness with subject- and class-making in the reform era. This chapter outlines the holistic and embodied dimensions of zheng nengliang in popular discourse, and examines how zheng nengliang is used to express emotional well-being and socioeconomic stratification in four public service adverts. Contributing fresh insights into how happiness is promulgated and how happy subjects are constructed in China, it extends the scholarly literature at the intersections of Chinese studies, happiness studies, and media studies.

Keywords:   Happiness, zheng nengliang, positive energy, positive psychology, public service advertising, subject, emotional intelligence

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