Fundamental human needs

Fundamental human needs

Fundamental human needs, according to the school of "Human Scale Development" developed by Manfred Max Neef and others (Antonio Elizalde and Martin Hopenhayn), are seen as ontological (stemming from the condition of being human), are few, finite and classifiable (as distinct from the conventional notion of conventional economic "wants" that are infinite and insatiable). [Manfred A. Max-Neef with Antonio Elizalde, Martin Hopenhayn. (1991). Human scale development: conception, application and further reflections. New York: Apex. Chpt. 2. “Development and Human Needs”, p. 18.] They are also constant through all human cultures and across historical time periods. What changes over time and between cultures is the strategies by which these needs are satisfied. It is important that human needs are understood as a system - i.e. they are interrelated and interactive. In this system, there is no hierarchy of needs (apart from the basic need for subsistence or survival) as postulated by Western psychologists such as Maslow, rather, simultaneity, complementarity and trade-offs are features of the process of needs satisfaction.

Manfred Max-Neef and his colleagues developed a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their "wealths" and "poverties" according to how their fundamental human needs are satisfied.

This school of Human Scale Development is described as, "focused and based on the satisfaction of fundamental human needs, on the generation of growing levels of self-reliance, and on the construction of organic articulations of people with nature and technology, of global processes with local activity, of the personal with the social, of planning with autonomy, and of civil society with the state." [Manfred Max-Neef, Antonio Elizalde, & Martin Hopenhayn "Human Scale Development: An Option for the Future" (in Spanish--Max-Neef, Manfred, Antonio Elizalde y Martin Hopenhayn (1986), "Desarrollo a Escala Humana - una opción para el futuro", Development Dialogue, número especial (CEPAUR y Fundación Dag Hammarskjold).) p.12.] [ Manfred Max-Neef, Antonio Elizalde, & Martín Hopenhayn. with the cooperation of. Felipe Herrera, Hugo Zemelman, Jorge Jatobá, Luis Weinstein (1989). "Human Scale Development: An Option for the Future." Development Dialogue: A Journal of International Development Cooperation. 1989, 1, 7-80. (in English)]

Max-Neef classifies the fundamental human needs as:

* subsistence,
* protection,
* affection,
* understanding,
* participation,
* recreation (in the sense of leisure, time to reflect, or idleness),
* creation,
* identity and
* freedom.

Needs are also defined according to the existential categories of being, having, doing and interacting, and from these dimensions, a 36 cell matrix is developed [ [ Human Needs and Human-scale Development] ]

{| class="wikitable"
-! width="200" |Need! width="12" | Being (qualities)! width="12" | Having (things)! width="12" | Doing (actions)! width="12" | Interacting (settings)
physical and mental health
food, shelter, work
feed, clothe, rest, work
living environment, social setting
care, adaptability, autonomy
social security, health systems, work
co-operate, plan, take care of, help
social environment, dwelling
respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality
friendships, family, relationships with nature
share, take care of, make love, express emotions
privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness
critical capacity, curiosity, intuition
literature, teachers, policies, educational
analyse, study, meditate, investigate,
schools, families, universities, communities,
receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour
responsibilities, duties, work, rights
cooperate, dissent, express opinions
associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods
imagination, tranquillity, spontaneity
games, parties, peace of mind
day-dream, remember, relax, have fun
landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone
imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity
abilities, skills, work, techniques
invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret
spaces for expression, workshops, audiences
sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency
language, religions, work, customs, values, norms
get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself
places one belongs to, everyday settings
autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness
equal rights
dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness


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