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Wellbeing Machine book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material
ISBN978-1-61163-705-2
e-ISBN978-1-53100-611-2

Wellbeing Machine

How Health Emerges from the Assemblages of Everyday Life

by Kim McLeod

2017 $39.00 234 pp paper

Tags: Ethnographic Studies in Medical Anthropology Series, Medical Anthropology

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Wellbeing Machine shows how wellbeing arises in the intimate processes of daily life. Wellbeing and illbeing are generally seen as interior states of the individual, which can readily be linked to individuals being blamed for the status of their wellbeing. This book shifts attention away from the individual and onto the collective body. This approach generates a conceptual entity called the wellbeing machine, which comprises four assemblages that represent different responses to the challenges of everyday life experienced by people with depression. In this manner, wellbeing emerges from assemblages that transform in a sustainable way over time. Assemblages associated with illbeing are generative and vital to the production of wellbeing. Wellbeing Machine shifts discussion about the wellbeing bioeconomy into new terrain. It investigates the intersections between emergent wellbeing and labour, power, and capitalism, and produces knowledge about wellbeing that does not contribute negative associations about individuals’ wellbeing levels.

How to cultivate wellbeing is one of life’s persistent questions. Wellbeing Machine provides an incisive, eloquent and genuinely innovative response, reconfiguring wellbeing as a matter of collective bodies and everyday encounters. By drawing on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze to explore experiences of depression and recovery, the book moves beyond the impasse that has developed between the neurochemical model of depression and the view of anti-depressants as productive of inauthentic states of being. In Wellbeing Machine McLeod develops a multi-faceted model of wellbeing that rejects pathologisation while recognising the reality of suffering (and the possibility of transformation and hope). Wellbeing Machine is both scholarly and practical. It is a deeply optimistic book despite its critique of positive psychology. Its revaluing of illbeing as “both generative and an enduring component of life” leaves the reader with an appreciation for the challenges and joys of living with intensity.

Helen Keane, Associate Professor, School of Sociology, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

Combining a Deleuzian epistemology with an inventive posthumanist methodology, Wellbeing Machine illustrates how wellbeing and illbeing are achieved in practice and how we might think of and approach them differently for the purposes of health intervention, analysis and research. In opening up a space for the human and non-human in health research, this provocative and important book demonstrates the uses of qualitative methods for the posthumanities. In conceiving, designing and generating Wellbeing Machine, McLeod’s experimental method and innovative conceptual framework brings a new approach to bear on critical debates on the posthuman in the humanities and social sciences, and presents practical challenges to health policy. The original empirical material makes an important and compelling argument about the transformative nature of mental health and its centrality to contemporary life.

Nicole Vitellone, AF Warr Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool


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