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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). 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."  
Max-Neef classifies the fundamental human needs as:
- identity and
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 
|Need||Being (qualities)||Having (things)||Doing (actions)||Interacting (settings)|
|subsistence||physical and mental health||food, shelter, work||feed, clothe, rest, work||living environment, social setting|
|protection||care, adaptability, autonomy||social security, health systems, work||co-operate, plan, take care of, help||social environment, dwelling|
|affection||respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality||friendships, family, relationships with nature||share, take care of, make love, express emotions||privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness|
|understanding||critical capacity, curiosity, intuition||literature, teachers, policies, educational||analyse, study, meditate, investigate,||schools, families, universities, communities,|
|participation||receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour||responsibilities, duties, work, rights||cooperate, dissent, express opinions||associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods|
|leisure||imagination, tranquillity, spontaneity||games, parties, peace of mind||day-dream, remember, relax, have fun||landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone|
|creation||imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity||abilities, skills, work, techniques||invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret||spaces for expression, workshops, audiences|
|identity||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|
|freedom||autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness||equal rights||dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness||anywhere|
Research[edit | edit source]
Human Scale Development: Conception, application and further reflections. By Manfred A. Max-Neef with contributions from Antonio Elizalde Martin Hopenhayn (1991)
Examples of application[edit | edit source]
- All We Need exhibition in Luxembourg in 2007
- The Creativist Society explores the needs over twitter
- We Are Arising explores the needs at the SHINE Unconference
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- REDIRECT Template:Reflist
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- 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.
- 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)
- Human Needs and Human-scale Development
- The Atlantic, Maslow 2.0: A New and Improved Recipe for Happiness
- (2011). Needs and Subjective Well-Being Around the World. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101 (2): 354–365.