Books – other publications

Strengthening People’s Capacities, a Methodology for Addressing and Realizing People’s Potential

Dutch title
Krachtwerk: Methodisch werken aan participatie en zelfregie

by Judith Wolf

This book (in Dutch) is an outcome of the work started by the Radboud University Medical Centre of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, since 2008. It is focused on the methodology to increase  the own powers of people to go beyond their being trapped into disadvantaged daily circumstances situations and who need inspiration from counsellors to rise above it. This Academic Workplace – called Impulse, the Research Centre of Societal oriented Health care of the  university’s Public Health Research Center – has taken the initiative.

Today, more than 50 care oriented institutions in the Netherlands and 4000 of their counselors apply the herewith oriented methodology. This is strongly inspired by the social quality approach (SQA). According the members of this Workplace, the essence of the SQA is  highly useful, because it tries to stimulate the (1) the extent in which citizens can participate in the economic, political and cultural life, (2) the development of their communities, (3) under conditions favorable to their well-being and self realization, (4) enabling them to influence the conditions of their own existence.

The centerpiece of the book concerns the operationalization of these points of departure into a methodology to support clients to strengthen their capacities to use their potentials. Points of departure are the constitutional factors of the ‘social quality approach’ as (1) strengthening personal capacities, (2) on improving personal security, (3) on fostering reciprocity and social recognition, and (4) on promoting social responsibility and the emancipation of clients as citizens, as users of care and various institutes. The hereupon fourfold methodology is based on the interplay  of these constitutional factors and the conditional factors of social quality. This is based on the interplay of the conditional factors of social quality and the constitutional factors of social quality.

This book is the first study, which fills the cap in social quality research and application by dedicating its huge attention of the meaning of strengthening people’s constitutional factors . This extension to in fact 50 workplaces in The Netherlands of this SQA-oriented methodology which trained already 5000 counsellors for supporting disadvantage people  is rather unique in the world. The current intentions of the Research Center are to compare the outcomes of this Dutch work with the inspiring work in the USA concerning ‘Strengthening Work’ of the University van Kansas and other comparable approaches in this country. With support by the IASQ first plans are made to pave the way for an international oriented debate on also these Dutch outcomes of aspects of the SQA.

Published by Coutinho, 2017

About the Author

Judith Wolf is a professor of societal care at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She is also director of the Impuls – Research Center for Social Care at the Radboud UMC and as such affiliated with the Impuls Academy.


Quality of Life: Concept, Policy and Practice

by David Phillips

Quality of life is one of the most important issues facing the world today and is central to the development of social policy.

This innovative book discusses this crucial topic, assessing the criteria for judging attempts to raise quality of life, including the satisfaction of basic and social needs, autonomy to enjoy life and social connectivity. It considers key topics such as:

  • individual well-being and health-related quality of life
  • human needs - living fulfilling and flourishing lives
  • poverty and social exclusion
  • social solidarity, altruism and trust within communities.

Quality of Life is the first systematic presentation of this subject from both individual and collective perspectives. It provides a powerful overview of a concept which is becoming increasingly prominent in the social sciences and is essential reading for students of social policy, sociology and health studies.

Published by Routledge, 2006/2016, available in print, and as eBook

About the author

David Phillips is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy in the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, UK. He has undertaken research on a wide range of topics in the health and social services, on community solidarity within minority communities and on quality of life. At present, he is studying the contribution of trust, reciprocity and altruism to social cohesion.

Some Remarks About David Phillips’ Work and Social Quality

The inspiration for this book emerged from the start of social quality thinking in the 1990s. David Phillips was invited in the early 2000s to join the European project for developing social quality indicators, financed by the European Commission and fifteen universities all over the European Union. It was a challenge to debate issues central to social quality across the differing, cultural, political and economic characteristics throughout the EU.

Thanks to this engagement the author started to analyze the ‘quality of life’ as one of those phrases we see and hear with increasing frequency. Next to the overview of analyses concerning ‘quality of life’ and the meaning for politics and polices, the author also dedicated his study to underlying  assumptions, which are also relevant for comparing ‘quality of life’ with ‘social quality’. In his book, thanks also to the invitation of the publisher, he has presented the characteristics of ‘social quality’ as well.  He refers to two broadly differing traditions in subjective approaches to quality of life have been identified in the literature: hedonic and eudaemonic. The first stresses the nobility of the individual with an emphasis upon personal freedom, self-preservation and self-enhancement, and is derived from a philosophical tradition encompassing Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. This tradition relates specifically to subjective well-being and is the starting point for hedonistic psychology with its emphasis on the integrity of individuals’ personal judgments about the good and bod elements of their livers, the attainment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The eudaimonic tradition stretches even further back, to the Aristotelian conception of ‘the good life’ of moderation, reason and justice, and it focusses on meaning, self-realization and the actualization of human potential. It refers also to the teachings of St Thomas Aquino on the importance of virtue and personal salvation and they trace the pedigree of this school of thought back as far as Confucianism with its emphasis on scholarship and duty in relationships.

Social Quality Theory and ‘The Social’

In 2011, five years after Quality of Life was published, David Phillips wrote the article The Individual and the Social: A Comparison of the Discourses of Human Development, Human Security and Social Quality. This article was published in the International Journal of Social Quality, Volume 1(1). An important accent was put on the distinction between the two traditions mentioned above. The author argues that social quality theory has the most explicit, emphatic and broad theoretical attention to the notion of ‘the social,’ through its theme of constitutive interdependency (or dialectic) between processes of personal self-realization and processes leading to the formation of collectivities.

‘The social’ is also prominent in many ‘quality of life’ studies. These address social as well as individual level issues and require positive outcomes at both levels for good quality of life. Neither of these models, however, identifies mechanisms of interaction between the individual  and the social. Nor do they give an explicit theoretical rationale for the introduction of ‘the social.’ They remain pragmatic and policy oriented. The social does not make an explicit appearance in Sen’s capability approach or in the foundational exposition of human development in the 1990 Human Development Report. In other words, the mainstream Quality of Life studies refer to the first tradition; the social quality approach is embedded in the second tradition.


The Decent Society, Planning for social quality

by Pamela Abbott, Claire Wallace and Roger Sapsford

This book comes out of twenty-five years of research and analysis using social indicators to explore how nations function and how governments can improve life for their citizens. The book’s title, The Decent Society, reflects the authors’ firm belief that no society is perfect and that there are many routes towards ‘good enough’ governance.

The authors have constructed what they call the Decent Society Index. This is a method which shows potential and combines the merits of indices and dashboards. This approach is chosen to increase our understanding of what is going on in the world in general while permitting detailed discussion and scrutiny of individual countries’ histories, problems and political goals.  Central is their analysis of societal processes from the perspective of a social quality approach. Their research has looked particularly at the countries of the former Soviet Union and at Rwanda in central East Africa – all examples of countries recreating themselves after a disastrous past.

Published by Routledge, 2016, available in print and as eBook.

About the authors

Pamela Abbott is honorary professor in the School of Social Sciences and an associate of the Centre for International Sustainable Development, both at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Her main research interests are in gender, quality of life and sustainable development.

Claire Wallace is Professor of Sociology, University of Aberdeen. She has co-authored a number of reports on wellbeing and quality of life for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin. She has written a number of articles on Social Quality together with Pamela Abbott and Roger Sapsford.

Roger Sapsford has recently retired from the post of Professor of Social Psychology and Research Methods at the National University of Rwanda. He has published in research methods, psychology of identity, psychological survival and life satisfaction.


Social Quality: Theoretical considerations, Methods and International Comparison

by Ka Lin

People’s Publishing House, 1st edition 2016

ISBN 9787010161471

Available in Chinese from

cover book ka linThe book consists of four parts. The first part describes the societal basis of social theory and explains the essentials of the theory. Part II expands on the theoretical basis. Part III focuses on comparing national data on key issues and proposes appropriate policies. Part IV explores the social policy model for analytical and methodological research.

Read a summary in English.

Short summary in Chinese:



About the author

Ka Lin is Professor of the College of Public Administration at Zhejiang University, Docent at the University of Turku and the University of Tampere, and Vice Chair of the International Association on Social Quality. He has published numerous research papers in English- and Chinese-language journals in social policy, social work, social administration, and social quality. Ka Lin is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Social Quality.

Social Quality Theory - A New Perspective on Social Development

Edited by Ka Lin and Peter Herrmann

ISBN  978-1-78238-897-5

eISBN 978-1-78238-898-2 eBook

Published by Berghahn Books July 2015


Social quality thinking emerged from a critique of one-sided policies by breaking through the limitations previously set by purely economistic paradigms. By tracing its expansion and presenting different aspects of social quality theory, this volume provides an overview of a more nuanced approach,  which assesses societal progress and introduces proposals that are relevant for policy making. Crucially, important components emerge with research by scholars from Asia, particularly China, eastern Europe, and other regions beyond western Europe, the theory’s place of origin. As this volume shows, this rich diversity of approaches and their cross-national comparisons reveal the increasingly important role of social quality theory for informing political debates on development and sustainability.


About the authors

Ka Lin is Professor of the College of Public Administration at Zhejiang University, Docent at the University of Turku and the University of Tampere, and Vice Chair of the International Association on Social Quality. He has published numerous research papers in English- and Chinese-language journals in social policy, social work, social administration, and social quality. Ka Lin is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Social Quality.

Peter Herrmann (PhD) is a social philosopher and professor of economics. He has studied in sociology, economics, political science, and social policy and philosophy. He holds a venia for sociology and has worked internationally in the EU and globally. He is Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center and the Law School at Central South University.


New Horizons of Human Development

Edited by Ananta Kumar Giri

Published by Studera Press, 2015

About the Book

While there is a renewed engagement with the discourse of development in our present-day world both in their critical as well as valorized manifestations, very rarely have some of the fundamental challenges as well as pathways of renewal been explored. This book addresses these gaps in our knowledge and research by bringing together essays on topics such as self-development, co-learning, co-responsibility, aesthetic ethics, creativity, conviviality, human security, peace and social quality etc. together. New Horizons of Human Development is not only a pioneering but also a monumental effort in our field of thinking, practice and collaborative imagination which raises some of these vital and deeper questions of human development and then overflows to an epochal and epic quest for rethinking and regenerating life, culture, society, polity and our fragile humanity. This book will be an enriching co-traveler for all friends from a wide range of paths of exploration in the academy–sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literature, development studies, cultural studies and religious studies–as well as across it—activists, citizens and seeking souls of the world.


Edior and authors

Dr. Ananta Kumar Giri is on the faculty of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India.

Authors: Pranjali Bandhu, Marcus Bussey, Alain Caille´, John Clammer, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Des Gasper, Andrea Grieder, Lois Holzman, Suman Makhaik Karla, Reinhart Kösler, Laurent J.G. van der Maesen, Habibullah Magsi, Ivan Marquez, Mahendra Kumar Mishra, Manoranjan Mohanty, Parthasarathi Mondal, Marian Moya, Shilpa Ashok Pandit, Anthony Savari Raj, V. J. Byra Reddy, Johannes Dragsbaek Schmidt, Nirmal Selvamony, R. Shanthini, Subhash Sharma, Prahlad Shekhawat, Reeta Sonawat, Piet Strydom, Joseph Tharamangalam, André Torre, Thanh-Dam Truong, Philip Quarls van Ufford, Frédéric Vandenberghe, Alan Walker



Enhancing Capabilities: The Role of Social Institutions

by Holger Ziegler and Hans Uwe Otto, eds.

"The volume suggests a capability perspective for evaluating welfare and educational policies. Capabilities are conceptualized as people’s freedom to choose and conduct a life they have reason to value. The contributions analyze what social institutions – in particular in the field of education and welfare – may provide in order to enhance capabilities in particular for most vulnerable people.

The capabilities approach to social justice does not primarily outline a transcendental philosophical theory of justice but rather a perspective which opens up a conceptual foundation for empirical social research in real life situations. Focussing on the freedoms to achieve actual livings that individuals can have reason to value, the capabilities approach promises to be a fruitful perspective for developing and justifying evaluative metrics for assessing welfare and educational policies. While the potentials and limits of the capabilities approach have been intensively discussed on general and conceptual levels, the role of organizations and institutions for enhancing capabilities is still a blind spot. As inequalities of capabilities are not merely macro-structural phenomena but also located in different institutional forms at various scales, this volume aims at analyzing the complex and often ambivalent role of institutions and policies in promoting or impeding the life prospects of individuals." – Publishers's website

Published by Verlag Barbara Budrich 2013


Hans-Uwe Otto & Holger Ziegler
Introduction: Enhancing Capabilities – The Role of Social Institutions

Part I – Welfare
Des Gasper, Laurent J.G. van der Maesen, Thanh-Dam Truong
& Alan Walker
Connecting ‘Human’ and ‘Social’ Discourses: The Human
Development, Human Security, and Social Quality Approaches
Franz Ferdinand Eiffe
Implications for a Capability-based Social Policy
– A European Perspective
Jean-Michel Bonvin & Eric Moachon
The Local Dimension in Labour Market Policies: Promoting Autonomy
or Enforcing Compliance?
Petra Bouché
Enabling local actors in labour market policy in Germany – lessons
from a case study on the reintegration of disadvantaged youth
Jürgen Volkert
Governmental Poverty and Wealth Reporting based on the
Capability Approach

Part II – Education
Albert Scherr
Subjectivity, Education and Capabilities – Education (‚Bildung’)
as an essential Dimension of Welfare Politics which are aimed
at enhancing Capabilities
Nicolas Farvaque
Constrained opportunities and principles of justice in action:
The role of school actors in helping technical students finding
a work experience
Guntars Catlaks
Hidden Privatisation and its impacts on Public Education5
Melanie Walker
Nussbaum’s Capabilities, Gender Justice and Educational

Part III – Social Services
Bill Jordan
Associations, Communities and Nations: The Solidarities and Services Sustaining Human Capabilities
Mark J. Stern & Susan C. Seifert
Creative capabilities and community capacity
Hans-Uwe Otto, Albert Scherr & Holger Ziegler
On the normative Foundation of Social Welfare –
Capabilities as a Yardstick for Critical Social Work


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