Gross National Happiness: A New Paradigm

Daskon, Chandima D.

In: Towards Global Transformation: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness. The Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu 2008, pp. 167-182 . ISBN 99936-14-42-4

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With the criticisms for top-town philosophy, development policies are now claimed to be culturally sensitive, people cantered, flexible, dynamic and multi-sectoral. Today, people's values, customs, beliefs and traditional knowledge systems collectively named as 'culture' is increasingly recognised as significant, and highly prioritised as vital sources, particularly for grassroots development. The Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) emerged in the 1990s as an alternative path to address grassroots problems, giving more opportunities to centralise people, their values and capabilities. The approach was declared as a holistic and comprehensive framework to address poverty and wellbeing, both in rural and urban contexts. But, it has also been criticised widely due to the lack of cultural and historical consideration, market and gender relations, and asset measurements. This paper is built upon one of those critiques. The paper inquires into the role of traditional culture in building sustainable livelihoods in rural context. The inadequate attention of cultural aspect in livelihood context is a serious concern, as people's values, customs, beliefs and traditional knowledge directly influence the choice of livelihood strategies. According to the present livelihood analyses, culture is an impediment for livelihood sustainability and refers to something that causes 'livelihood vulnerability'. As far as people are centred both in the development process and livelihood analysis, their values, customs, knowledge, traditions and beliefs, should also be at the centre. At the same time, culture should be a soft and permeable concept rather than deterministic and rigorous.

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2010 14:12
ISBN: 99936-14-42-4
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: Social sciences
Controlled Keywords: Bruttonationalglück, Entwicklungstheorie
Uncontrolled Keywords: Entwicklungspolitik, Gross National Happiness , Development Theory , Development Policy
Subject (classification): Sociology
Additional Information: Also available at