Led by Dr. Anna Alexandrova and Dr. Mark Fabian, the second strand used qualitative and participatory methodologies to explore how specific groups of society, under specific life circumstances, define wellbeing and associated metrics.
Through a series of interviews and workshops with the charity Turn2Us and people with lived experience of financial hardship, the research found that adverse life experiences can change our value judgments around ‘living well’ and what means to thrive.
Specifically, citizens in poverty, or at risk of poverty, emphasised the role of:
- freedom and autonomy;
- satisfaction of basic material needs;
- overcoming cultural expectations and stigma;
- having friends, family and a community.
Additional aspects they emphasised are unique to their context were:
- having advocates and straightforward access to the welfare system;
- avoiding marginalisation and oppression;
- having space to take risks to explore skills and activities that fulfil them.
From this exercise, the team co-produced a ‘theory of thriving’:
- having the means is the most fundamental stage
- entering into a process of self-knowledge (learning how to use the means) is the second necessary thing to happen
- recognising where you are at by identifying outcomes such as autonomy, purpose and relationships.
Co-producing measures of wellbeing that are relevant to Turn2Us and other specific contexts will be crucial to democratising wellbeing public policy.
Improving understanding of wellbeing in a particular contexts improves the nuance, sophistication, and sensitivity of wellbeing policy in that area, and helps wellbeing policy to develop from the ‘bottom up’, going beyond conventional economic measures of success.
Discover the full details in the discussion paper below.