Cultures of Optimism: The Institutional Promotion of Hope

by Oliver Bennett

Palgrave Macmillan 2015
  • Sociology

In the context of widespread intellectual pessimism, this book explores how individuals and societies sustain hope. It focuses, in particular, on the active role played by powerful institutions in the propagation of optimism. The cultures they promote offer visions of the future, which nurture hope and meaning, and exercise strong influences on how people act in the present. Yet these processes often go unobserved.

In this sequel to his acclaimed book on cultural pessimism, Oliver Bennett examines the institutional promotion of optimism in the domains of Democratic Politics; Work; The Family; Religion; and Psychotherapy. In doing so, Bennett addresses a number of questions: what are the functions of optimism in modern societies? How and why do institutions promote it? What values and attitudes are involved? Drawing on a range of disciplines, including social and evolutionary psychology, intellectual history and organisational behaviour, this book throws new light on an important but neglected aspect of modern culture.