In a world of cultural diversity, global inequality, and political conflict, enhancing quality of life is arguably the unifying principle in our ambitions for social planning and personal lifestyle. But just what does "quality of life" mean? How did it become a preeminent concern for policy-makers and the public at large? And what is at stake if we subordinate other conceptions of the common good to this most subjective and individualistic of ideas?
This course takes up these questions through an examination of quality of life's conceptual dimensions and social contexts. We will read a variety of primary sources and recent arguments in order to explore the idea of quality of life and the debates about whether it is improving or deteriorating in various domains. We will also use a sociological imagination to understand critically and historically how "quality of life" has come to frame personal aspirations and social concerns in societies today.