Towards a context-specific theory of flourishing: explorations on the meaning, measurement, and policy implications of flourishing in higher education

PhD Thesis


Gokcen, Esrin 2013. Towards a context-specific theory of flourishing: explorations on the meaning, measurement, and policy implications of flourishing in higher education. PhD Thesis University of East London Cass School of Education and Communities
AuthorsGokcen, Esrin
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

Positive psychology has emerged as an antidote to the negativistic focus of mainstream
psychology and human flourishing has recently been identified as its underlying aim.
Flourishing is also the aim of positive education, an applied area of positive psychology
that uses wellbeing theories and research on students in educational settings. Although
there are several positive psychological theories of flourishing, a key limitation of these is
“contextlessness,” or the tendency to neglect the role of context in flourishing. I argue there
are three specific facets of contextlessness: in the conceptualisation of flourishing, in its
measurement, and in the relationships between flourishing and its wider contexts.
To address this gap, I present a series of exploratory studies aimed at
contextualising flourishing. Higher education was selected as an appropriate setting for this
work as positive education is limited at tertiary level and would benefit from contextualised
understandings of flourishing. Findings of the studies – both qualitative and quantitative –
provided novel and insightful understandings of flourishing as it is understood by students
in higher education, aided the development and validation of a psychometric tool that
measures context-specific flourishing in higher education, and enabled the exploration of
flourishing in higher education in the political, economic, and cultural contexts within
which higher education operates. Overall, results suggest flourishing in higher education is
a complex and unique notion not always accountable by extant positive psychological
theories.
The thesis culminates in the proposition of a new theoretical framework,
complementing extant theories, which enables flourishing to be understood and researched
with greater recognition of the role of context. Further implications of the research and
suggestions for the future are discussed with regard to the findings.

Year2013
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.15123/PUB.3504
Publication dates
PrintDec 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jan 2014
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-NC-ND
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/85vv2

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