Theoretical Bases for the Measurement of Quality of Life

  • Jouko Kajanoja
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 16)


The ideal of liberalism defines quality of life as being up to each individual. In the present chapter, it is argued that this view is not satisfactory. The attributes of a good life need to be defined and it is best to do this consciously. A well justified process with which to achieve this is proposed to be on the basis of dialogue and communalism. On the other hand the liberal Ideal is needed to avoid intolerant controls on defining ways of life. Arguments are presented to justify that universality is an unattainable but worthy objective. We should strive towards measurement of functionings although we cannot avoid the measurement of resources, capabilities and rights as well. Indicators of living conditions are ultimately needed in democratic decision making but surveys describing preferences are also needed for increasing our self understanding. Both social theory and welfare theory are required as a basis for the measurement of the quality of life. Finally, a list is presented of the most urgent improvements in depicting the quality of life. The greatest shortcomings are due to the way that welfare indicators are traditionally based on atomistic liberalism. The review concludes by calling for more communalism in the indicators of quality of life (i.e., descriptions of the distribution, discrimination, participation and social capital).


Social Capital Good Life Social Indicator United Nations Development Programme Opinion Poll 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jouko Kajanoja
    • 1
  1. 1.HelsinkiFinland

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