AHRC Cultural Value Project

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With the publication of the Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, the approach to human welfare developed initially by Amartya Sen and extended by Martha Nussbaum, gained some exposure beyond narrowly academic circles. However, the conception of human wellbeing endorsed by the capabilities framework has not entered the main stream debate. This is somewhat surprising because wellbeing is a term that has secured considerable traction in recent years with many governments regarding wellbeing indices and objectives as an important element in policy. An important difference is that these initiatives have primarily been conceptualised and evaluated in terms of subjective wellbeing; in contrast, the alternative conception of wellbeing offered by this capabilities framework spans a range of subjective and objective factors. Neither does it reduce wellbeing to subjective happiness, nor does it explain it exclusively in terms of material welfare. The no tion of wellbeing in the capabilities framework is more multi-dimensional than the dominant approach. This opens up some interesting opportunities to interrogate the extent to which arts and culture can be seen as integral to the development of human capabilities identified in the framework.

In this workshop we wish to interrogate the place of art and culture in the capabilities framework. The capabilities approach is intended to broaden the conception of wellbeing beyond the simple question of subjective happiness on the one hand, and the considerations of material provisions and economic welfare on the other. The workshop will provide an opportunity to consider the extent to which cultural goods might be seen as integral to human welfare.

A few questions for consideration:

  • What is 'wellbeing'? What is the conception of wellbeing offered by the capabilities framework? How does Critical Practice think about wellbeing?
  • What role does art and culture play in the capabilities framework? How is this currently conceptualized in research on this area?

What sort of 'workshop' would we like to develop?:

  • The AHRC form asks for a workshop that will include 12-15 experts. Which experts would we want to invite? From which areas or 'communities of value' would they come from?
  • Would we be interested in having one event, or a series of smaller discussions (like with Hans), or smaller discussions leading to a bigger event involving everyone?
  • Thinking about the impact of environment on conversation, Where would we like to hold these discussions?

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Why make the bid?

  • It's a long shot, agreed; it's coming up quickly to boot. But we'll want to look at 'wellbeing' as part of our broader work on 'evaluation' in any event...and the capabilities approach looks, well, mind blowing!
  • Doing this research could mobilize potential issues/partners/frenemies for our Market of Evaluation in May of 2015

Timeline - to 7th November due date

  • 28 October, 2013: Amy and Marsha meet to discuss the bid:
  • What form should the workshop take? How will it spread across time and space? Who should be involved? (Who can we resource from CP's network) How do we go about costing the admin? The travel costs, etc? Are these standard aspects of fEC?
  • Marsha submits the funding request to Research Management and Admin
  • Marsha to check her eligibility to apply for funding to determine if she's a good PI
  • Amy and Marsha to begin elaborating the expression of interest via a Google Doc (It will be too unruly to author this on the wiki but we will link to this doc there) - It's agreed Marsha will start on the first section, Amy on the second and then we'll wait to hear from CP to compose the third.
  • 3 November, 2013: Marsha works up various aspects of the document. You can find them here: