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Smile Yourself Happy: Zheng nengliang and the Discursive Construction of Happy Subjects

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date2018
Host publicationChinese Discourses on Happiness
EditorsGerda Wielander, Derek Hird
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherHong Kong University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9789888455720
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.