To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
At first sight it appears incongruous to discuss wellbeing in relation to developing countries. Most often, and properly, our attention and concern is for the many people who experience suffering as a consequence of their poverty. However, there are a number of reasons why it is important to confront this apparent incongruity. The first is to acknowledge the fully rounded humanity of poor men, women and children in developing countries; recognising that they are not completely defined by their poverty, nor can they be fully understood in its terms alone. Poor people in developing countries strive to achieve wellbeing for themselves and their children. For the poorest, and in the worst instances, this will largely be a struggle to limit the extent of their illbeing and suffering. But even alongside deprivations, poor men, women and children are able to achieve some elements of what they conceive of as wellbeing, as Biswas-Diener and Diener (2001) demonstrate; without this, we would argue, their lives would be unbearable. Furthermore, it is striking that the non-poor in developing countries can often experience what appear to be high levels of life satisfaction. Wellbeing is far from an irrelevant concept in the study of international development.
From this perspective the notion of poverty (or rather poverties) has a number of limitations and the literature around it is becoming increasingly complex and to some extent muddled.
In a world where many experience unprecedented levels of wellbeing, chronic poverty remains a major concern for many developing countries and the international community. Conventional frameworks for understanding development and poverty have focused on money, commodities and economic growth. This 2007 book challenges these conventional approaches and contributes to a new paradigm for development centred on human wellbeing. Poor people are not defined solely by their poverty and a wellbeing approach provides a better means of understanding how people become and stay poor. It examines three perspectives: ideas of human functioning, capabilities and needs; the analysis of livelihoods and resource use; and research on subjective wellbeing and happiness. A range of international experts from psychology, economics, anthropology, sociology, political science and development evaluate the state-of-the-art in understanding wellbeing from these perspectives. This book establishes a new strategy and methodology for researching wellbeing that can influence policy.
This volume began by recalling the urgent policy challenges to eliminate extreme poverty in developing countries. The research programme around which this volume has been organised rests on the proposition that the concept of wellbeing is not only academically promising but also can be of practical policy value in both developed and developing worlds. Des Gasper, however, argues in Chapter 2 that if this is the case then two basic challenges must be met. The first is to demonstrate that the label of ‘wellbeing’ can be conceptually useful, or as he puts it ‘appealing’, to both academia and policy. The second is to answer, ‘When will it promote priority to the basic needs of the poorest and under what conditions?’ To achieve this, we contend, requires (a) combining different disciplinary perspectives to advance our understanding of wellbeing and (b) translating this into an agenda for empirical research. These are the topics of sections 14.3 and 14.4 of this chapter.
The formal objective of the Wellbeing in Developing Countries Research Group at the University of Bath has been to develop a conceptual and methodological framework for understanding the social and cultural construction of wellbeing in developing countries.
Wellbeing is a term much in vogue. It is to be found in many diverse places: from the lifestyle pages of newspaper supplements; to health food and spiritual healing shops; to government policy documents. For some it is a broad and attractive term, for others it is messy, imprecise and conceptually dangerous. The arguments contained in this book suggest that ‘love it or hate it’ the social sciences globally must confront the challenges it poses. Wellbeing is now commonly used by governments and politicians in developed countries as the policy documents and legislation of the UK, Europe and North America indicate. In England, the Local Government Act of 2000 charges local authorities with the responsibility of ‘promoting well-being’, while in Scotland the Local Government Act of 2003 grants local authorities new power to ‘advance well-being’. The term features less commonly in our thinking and policy in relation to developing countries. For some it may appear that wellbeing is a luxury that developing countries, and particularly the poor men, women and children who live in them, could do without. We argue not.
Experiences of living and working with people in a wide range of developing countries tell us that they have as vivid and valid notions of wellbeing as do people in wealthier countries, where it appears more possible to buy one's way to wellbeing.