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Communication and «The Good Life»


Edited By Hua Wang

What is a «good life» and how can it be achieved? In this volume, communication scholars and media experts explore these fundamental questions about human existence and aspiration in terms of what a «good life» might look like in a contemporary, mediatized society. While in many ways a mediatized society brings us closer to some version of the «good life», it also leads us away from it. The affordances of new technologies seem to have shifted, for many, from an opportunity to an obligation. Rather than choosing when and where to be connected to these larger networks of information and acquaintances, we feel we must be permanently available, thus losing the luxury of controlling our time and attention.
This volume illuminates the complexity of our modern era, exploring how society can leverage exciting new opportunities whilst recognizing the complex challenges we face in a time of constant change. It helps us understand how we have come to this point and where we may be going so that we may study the opportunities and the dangers, the chances and the risks, that digital media pose in our quest for some version of «the good life».
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Chapter Five: Media Policy for Happiness: A Case Study of Bhutan


← 60 | 61 → CHAPTER FIVE

Media Policy for Happiness

A Case Study of Bhutan


Probably more than any other country, Bhutan has taken a deliberate and cautious path to development. The notion of Gross National Happiness (GNH), perhaps Bhutan’s best-known intellectual gift to the rest of the world, is also the best example of how the country sees the purpose of development—not merely as an economic pursuit, but more a self-actualization of individuals in the collective. The premise is that the ultimate aspiration of every human being is happiness.

This is not far from the Declaration of Independence of the United States, which holds it self-evident that among the inalienable rights of all people is “the pursuit of happiness.” The major difference is that Bhutan has embedded GNH into its national constitution and established institutions and policies to operationalize it. Hence, policies for media development are viewed through the perspective of GNH principles. This is unique in the world. On the one hand, it offers exciting possibilities of “thinking out of the box” and exploring alternative paths of developing the media. On the other hand, as a unique case, such a notion is as challenging as it is trailblazing; there is no example to follow.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the Bhutanese government wants GNH applied to preserve the uniqueness of Bhutan and its values such as the average Bhutanese should not be materialistic...

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