Confidence game: Marketing well-being in economic surveys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent global financial crisis has also been widely characterized as a massive crisis of confidence. This article examines how economic surveys of well-being are deployed to maintain confidence in market institutions and activities. It argues that these economic surveys, which are ostensibly designed to measure confidence, happiness and other states of subjective well-being, are in fact responsible for enacting confidence among its respondents and the general public. The article employs a framework of ‘marketization’, connecting this framework to broader cultural studies of economics and economies that focus on the ways in which markets and the context in which they are received are ‘made’. Economic surveys work to create confidence in the current economic system by positing that positive social and cultural attitudes toward market activity are not merely related to but are actually responsible for market growth. As such, these surveys accomplish a double objective: they maintain economic expertise, infrastructures and devices as legitimate and necessary; and they maintain the notion that economic growth is central to the maintenance of social welfare and progress. The article concludes that the inculcation of confidence among individuals and institutions precludes the task of reflecting on and recognizing the inadequacy of the current economic situation and diminishes the seeming necessity for political action and reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-257
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Confidence
  • economy
  • marketization
  • markets
  • surveys
  • well-being


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