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Theoretical framework

The starting point for developing the present budget standard consists, not in the classic product categories such as food, clothing, household goods etc, but rather in the fundamental needs that must be fulfilled in order that people could participate minimally in society, in a manner that is compatible with human dignity. Human dignity implies that people should experience a sense of belonging, that they should occupy a position within social networks from where they are able to maintain meaningful social relationships. They should also be able to meet the shared expectations associated with their social position and thus participate in the realisation of essential societal functions. In other words, participating in society in a manner compatible with human dignity implies elements of belonging as well as contributing.

In their book A Theory of Human Need (1991), Doyal and Gough assert that two basic universal human needs must be fulfilled in order for the individual to be able to participate minimally in society, namely physical health and autonomy. Proceeding from this premise, we set out in search of products and services that can adequately meet these needs. These products and services, or satisfiers, are relative, unlike the needs they are intended to satisfy. This means that they are, to a large extent, historically and culturally determined. Yet it is possible to reduce them to a number of intermediate needs, constituting a necessary step towards the definition of concrete, society-specific satisfiers. Following Doyal & Gough, we identify ten intermediate needs. In order to be able to participate minimally in society, people must have at their disposal adequate and sufficient food, housing, healthcare and personal care, clothing, rest and leisure. In addition, they must have experienced security in childhood, be able to maintain meaningful social relations, feel safe and be sufficiently mobile.


K.H.Kempen Vlaamse overheid CSB ULG