Well-being and social value: ‘I shall not come to your funeral’

Bill Jordan

in Welfare and well-being

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420800
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304210 | DOI:
Well-being and social value: ‘I shall not come to your funeral’

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This chapter considers what an alternative account of social value might offer to the analysis of the issues in well-being and welfare. It introduces the idea that well-being is directly related to access to social value, and that economic welfare must be seen as part of a particular system for exchanging and distributing such value. As with all systems for symbolic interaction, negative and positive transactions occur. The concepts of loss, cost, debt, insolvency and ruin are important and necessary to competition for esteem, success, and celebrity, in which the price of failure is exclusion, stigma, shame, obscurity and material poverty. The culture of contract and economic welfare is not a replacement for archaic status, authority, dominance and subordination: it is an instance of how these forms of social value are embodied in the production and exchange of material goods and services. Discussed in this chapter are: the economics of esteem; choice, contract and culture; making competent individuals; and the transformation of collective life.

Keywords: social value; choice; economic welfare; esteem; culture; contract

Chapter.  7370 words. 

Subjects: Health, Illness, and Medicine

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