Moralities of Wellbeing

Sarah White

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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This paper is a lightly edited transcript of Sarah’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture on April 25, 2018. It draws on primary research in Zambia but also reflects on the promotion of wellbeing in the UK. There are three main points. 1. The need to recover a key promise of the focus on wellbeing, to move from seeing people as objects of policy to recognizing them as subjects of their own lives. 2. This means understanding wellbeing as grounded in relationships, not held within the individual. A model of relational wellbeing emerging through the interaction of personal, societal and environmental structures and processes is offered. 3. Recognising people as subjects raises the question of what kind of subjects they are. The paper argues that wellbeing advocates primarily construct people as psychological subjects. The research in Zambia suggests instead that we should view people as moral subjects. This does not mean that people always get things right, but that for most people, much of the time, trying to do so matters. The paper closes with some ideas of what implications a relational approach to wellbeing could have for policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBath
PublisherCentre for Development Studies, University of Bath
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Publication series

NameBath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing
PublisherCDS, University of Bath
ISSN (Print)2040-3151


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