It is alarming yet also exhilarating when the fundamental assumptions about the world come under question. For most of the twentieth century, the terms about ‘welfare’ and ‘well-being’ were used in discussions about human development, social justice and public policy. Despite the many debates over the best outcomes of the interactions between its members, theorists of society seemed to share a rough consensus about the nature of the desirable rights and material resources for which these populations were striving. In this introductory chapter, the paradox of the present situations of the affluent Anglophone countries where the economic model is both dominant and fragile is discussed and examined. The structure of the book is also outlined. Part One discusses how the version of welfare that is central to the economic model is crucial for its dominance. Using the example of social capital theory and research, this part of the book aims to show how a concept that promised to bring social factors and collective goods to prominence was easily absorbed into the economic model and served to strengthen its grip on policy analysis and planning. Part Two of the book discusses how well-being analysis might avoid a similar fate. It adopts a broader strategy in arguing that this is cannot be achieved without a new radical approach to value and its social origins. In this part, the differences between the economic model's version of welfare and the notion of well-being as derived from social value are illustrated. Part Three discusses the relevance of social value for public policy.
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