Towards International and Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration for the Measurements of Quality of Life
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This paper focuses on three main subjects: (1) monitoring quality of life (QoL) in old age; (2) international and interdisciplinary collaboration for QoL research; and (3) computer-based technology and infrastructure assisting (1) and (2). This type of computer-supported cooperative work in the social sciences has been termed eHumanities or eSocial Science. Although QoL issues matter for all ages, given the size of population aging and the demographic outlook of developed countries, QoL in old age is one of the most pressing issues to study (Walker and Mollenkopf in Quality of life in old age: international and multi-disciplinary perspectives, Springer, The Netherlands, 2007). Despite the recognized need for good measurement methods in QoL (e.g., Stiglitz et al. in The measurement of economic performance and social progress revisited. progress revisited. OFCE working documents, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE), Paris, 2009), effective mechanisms allowing cross-country comparisons are still rare. In the context of QoL or human well-being research and measurement, one of the most influential concepts is the capability approach (CA). Yet, the operationalization of the CA has long been one of the serious challenges faced by capabilities and quality of life researchers. As regards to this issue, we argue that modern technology has the potential to provide ample tools for enhancing the measurement of human well-being, and facilitating large-scale collaborative research on the QoL. This paper demonstrates a methodology, procedures, and tools that we have developed, based on the new technologies designed and developed for both governmental and intergovernmental (OECD) sponsored assessments and that are ready to be used for QoL analysis. We propose a viable alternative for facilitating international and interdisciplinary research collaboration to develop a methodology and a dashboard of indicators to monitor the progress of human well-being over the years and to formalize its multidimensional measure for international comparisons.
KeywordsQuality of life in old age Capability approach Operationalization eSocial Science ICT
We have been very fortunate in receiving comments, suggestions, and encouragement from numerous people. For their stimulating comments, we are profoundly grateful to Guy Palmer, Alan Walker, Paul Chatin, Marilyn Binkley, Fabiola de Falco, Muriel Foulonneau, Anne-Marie Guillemard, Nicole Kerchen, Kentaro Yamamoto, Irwin S. Kirsch, Robert Cummins, Agnes Nemenyi, Lars Andersson, Sabina Alkire, an anonymous referee, and to the participants of ISA World Congress of Sociology, HDCA annual conference, and of a workshop at the University of Cambridge, where earlier versions of this paper were presented. For technical and logistical support, we would like to thank Géraldine Vidou, Damien Arcani, Marie Rossy, Solange Wirtz, Stefan Leidner, Romain Martin, Nathalie Bourgeois, Mireille Ramiandrisoa, Gilles Kayser, Ulrich Keller, Mari Yamaguchi, Isao Sawai, Nui Iwabuchi, Okuji Nishijima, Kimie Kitanaka, Tooru Kitanaka, and the members of the TAO team at Tudor and at the University of Luxembourg. Finally, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who took part in our research.
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