UCL Anthropology


The JOY Network

Humans have a profound capacity for joy. Socially, joy breaks down the boundaries between self and others, reducing awareness of self-oriented concerns, increasing connectedness with others, and facilitating prosocial behaviours. And joy accompanies many of those moments that people describe as most meaningful in their lives. Yet, despite the social and personal profundity of joyous experience, joy has received scant attention in scholarly literature.

The JOY Network is an interdisciplinary network that brings together academic researchers from across the social sciences and humanities to explore the nature and role of joy in cross-cultural perspective. The network aims to serve as fulcrum for those interested in the phenomenology, value, and role of joy in social life. It is inspired by the premise that an ethnographic and analytic focus on joy draws us into moral, emotional, and social worlds, the complex values that inform them and the work that people do to navigate them. By examining joy in cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary perspective, the JOY Network aims to attend to the social processes by which joy is generated, the normative values that inform it and the individual and collective practices by which it is addressed.

Balloons in purple space 2


The JOY Network beings together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to examine the place, meaning and experience of joy in social life.

Balloons in purple space 3


With generous support from the Department of Anthropology and Grand Challenges at UCL we have run a series of events on joy.