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Personal profile

Research interests

For some time now I have been working with others who are uneasy with the mainstream view of wellbeing, which sees it as something belonging to the individual and relating mainly to thoughts, emotions and attitudes.  This doesn’t fit the way people have talked to me about what makes their lives good, especially in Bangladesh, India and Zambia, or the way that colleagues who work in Asia, Africa or Latin America report how people there describe their worlds.  Over the past few years we have therefore been working on developing a different, relational approach to wellbeing, that reflects what people in practice can do and be, as well as how they think and feel.  Putting relationships at the centre means recognising that people are in relationship with others, and this critically affects the opportunities they face and the choices they make.  Relationships are also central to livelihood strategies, especially in contexts where the state and formal sector are limited or weak. But relationships are not just objects of analysis.  Going further, the challenge is to think relationally, to look for the connections between different parts of life, such as how interactions within and between persons are shaped by social, political, economic and ecological structures and processes, and how these in turn contribute to shaping one another.   Developing further this relational approach to wellbeing, in both conceptual and practical terms, is the central project which engages me.

In this short video I talk about my research linked to my paper on relational wellbeing, published in Policy and Politics, 2017. 

I have edited two books on wellbeing: Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) and Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment. A Practical Guide(2014, Practical Action ).

My first book was Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh (Zed Books, 1992) 

Research interests

  • Relational Wellbeing
  • Gender, culture and Child Rights
  • Religion and Race
Latest publications

2020      White, S.C. ‘A Space for Unlearning? A Relational Perspective on North-South Development Research.’ European Journal of Development Research, June.

2020    White S.C. and Jha, S. 'Therapeutic culture and relational wellbeing.' pp 203-214 in Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures, edited by Daniel Nehring, Ole Jacob Madsen, Dylan Kerrigan, Edgar Cabanas Día and China Mills. Routledge.

2018    White, S.C. and Jha, S. Towards an interdisciplinary approach to wellbeing: Life histories and Self-Determination Theory in rural ZambiaSocial Science and Medicine 212: 153-160.



Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

Arguing with a crocodile book cover

Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh, Zed Books, 1992

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Wellbeing Achieved from Earthen Residence

White, S.

The British Academy


Project: Research council

Relational Wellbeing

White, S.

The British Academy


Project: Research council

  • Research Output

    Therapeutic Culture and Relational Wellbeing

    White, S. & Jha, S., 2019, (Acceptance date) Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures. Nehring, D., Madsen, O., Cabanas, E., Mills, C. & Kerrigan, D. (eds.). Routledge

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    32 Downloads (Pure)

    Moralities of Wellbeing

    White, S., Jul 2018, Bath: Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath, p. 1-17, 17 p. (Bath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing; no. 58).

    Research output: Working paper

    Open Access
  • 65 Downloads (Pure)

    Towards an Interdisciplinary Approach to Wellbeing: Life Histories and Self-Determination Theory in Rural Zambia

    White, S. & Jha, S., 30 Sep 2018, In : Social Science and Medicine. 212, p. 153-160 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)


    Living with landmines: mine action, development and wellbeing in post-conflict societies – a case study in Cambodia

    Author: Davies, G., 18 Aug 2015

    Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Hart, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Negotiating the powers: everyday religion in Ghanaian society

    Author: Graveling, L., 1 Mar 2008

    Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Devine, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Physical activity, noncommunicable disease, and wellbeing in urban South Africa

    Author: Brangan, E., 12 Dec 2012

    Supervisor: Copestake, J. (Supervisor) & White, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Searching for a better life: young people living in slum communities in Bangkok

    Author: Mahony, S., 1 Apr 2010

    Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Seeing the Social: Understanding why children are out of school in rural Ethiopia

    Author: Grieve, T., 20 Jun 2016

    Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Wikeley, F. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD