V International Conference: Happy Homes, Happy Society?

The leading question for the conference is ‘to what extent does the quality of domestic life (family relationships, environment, technical tools, housing style) influence individual and social happiness, in the context of current changes?’

About the conference

This Conference explores the contribution of the home to the wellbeing/content/happiness of individuals at all stages of life and by implication and evidence to wider society. And it was a great opportunity to demonstrate the vital role of the home in connecting and nurturing individuals through shared values, work, and purpose.

This conference builds upon HRF’s proven expertise in gathering world-class academics and professionals to present multidisciplinary research and experience relating to the life and work of the home. It specifically builds upon the Experts’ Meeting held in 2019 on The Home in the Digital Age. It also allows us to revisit the contribution of architecture (2nd Conference 2008) and to develop one of the aspects of health and wellbeing covered at our 4th Conference (A Home: A Place of Growth, Care and Well-being, 2017).

There is a clear public as well as academic and professional engagement with this topic. The 5th Conference has generated new material suitable for publication as a part of a growing series on topics relating to the home, but has been also a point of reconnection with and refreshment of earlier themes and concerns. This is promoting future evidence-based discourse and policy-making.

The conference was organised into two strands (Happiness linked to activities of the home, and Housing, connecting and social interaction) with a keynote and contributing academics; and in 2021 with paper givers in dialogue and workshops.

November 12-13, 2020 | Online due to Covid-19 Measures |  London



Video of the event


Lord Layard | London School of Economics

A happy society is the fruit of happy and caring relationships at home

As a part of his contribution, Lord Layard highlights the need for policies to support parents and children as these are the key relationships in promoting happiness and well-being in the home for individuals, families and wider society.


Contributing Academics

Prof. Maria Pia Chirinos | University of Piura, Peru

Care, Flourishing, Happiness: the Challenge at Home in Everyday Life

The central place of work during the twentieth century, and maybe also the nineteenth, has marked our era as the “civilization of work” or as a “work-centric culture”. The thesis that I would like to propose here is that the value of care should be recognized as a property of all human work, and as the key to humanizing a civilization that has made technology and environment into its gods. Only a civilization focused on care can promote human flourishing and, consequently, happiness, and care should be the most significant thing learnt at home. Therefore home, care and happiness are essentially related, and all these three notions have our innate human vulnerability as their connecting thread. To humanize our civilization means to tackle one of the most dangerous taboos: our fragility.


Dr. Stephen Davies | Institute for Economic Affairs

Happiness and the Structure of the Home

There is much evidence that happy homes make for a happy society. Many factors contribute to either supporting happy and functional homes or undermine them. One of these, which is often overlooked, is the physical layout and design of houses and of the built environment in general (Coleman, 1987. Mehrabian, 1976). The way these are done is shaped by economic pressures of consumer demand and supply constraints but it also has a clear ideological component because things like house design derive from social ideals as to how people should live and the nature of family and the home.


Prof. Maria Bakardjieva | University of Calgary, Canada

Home Implosion: Digital Media and the Reinvention of the Private Sphere

What happens to our homes once digital media become deeply and intimately inscribed into their spaces and rhythms? Do activities, relationships and roles in the household remain fundamentally the same, or do significant changes take hold?  Sociological theory has considered the private sphere to be represented by home life and family relationships as well as the notions of the private that members of a culture share. Communication research, for its part, has shown how different media have punctured and eroded the already porous boundary delineating the so defined private sphere: from the startling ring of the telephone to the intricate reconfiguration of domestic routines and relationships with the outside world that television brought about. Digital media have carried that erosion further than anyone would have imagined.


Prof. Bridgette Wessels | University of Glasgow

Creating meaningful connected homes: the relationships and dynamics of household-digital technology interactions in fostering wellbeing

Changes in household composition and household life (ONS 2019) and the pervasive use of data-driven services is impacting on the characteristics and quality of home life. Remote working, online learning, platform-based consumption, telehealth, streamed entertainment and digitally mediated relationships are increasingly part of home life. These services are accessed via the web, mobile apps, smart devices and sensors, which are all part of, what is termed here, the ‘connected home’. Connected homes are the backbone of a connected UK (BEIS 2019), central to its economy, society and culture. However, connected homes are ad hoc in their configuration and in what they ‘socially shape’: they exert an influence on households and are experienced very differently depending on household culture and practice, housing design and quality, geodemographic factors, life stages, wellbeing and -more recently – public health crises.


Prof. Agnieszka Nogal | University of Warsaw

The impact of domestic happiness on public space

The thesis of the text is that in liberal political philosophy there are no tools to conceptualize the relation between homes and society. In order to analyze the impact of the home on the public sphere, one must depart from the liberal model of the public sphere and turn towards classical thought and virtue concept. Such a turn will be examined in the text using arguments formulated by  Martha Nussbaum and Sibyl Schwarzenbach, allowing one to supplement the specific “lack” of liberalism with the space of the home treated as a space of civic education.


Dr. David Thunder | University of Navarra

The “Neighbourhood” as a Pivotal Element of the Infrastructure of a Flourishing Society

The central theme of this conference is the contribution of home and family life to a healthy society. In reality, of course, the relation between the home and the society that hosts it, is not merely a one-way relation, but a complex, dialectical relation. The life of the home obviously conditions the character of members of the home, and their fitness to participate responsibly in social life. But it is also true that the customs, institutions, and mores of small, medium, and large communities condition the life of the home and shape the capacity of parents to make a responsible contribution to society and to prepare their children to do the same.


Selected Paper Givers & Workshops

See selected Paper Givers  |  Agenda  |   Workshops Report