Professor Sarah C. White
Professor of international development and wellbeing
3 East 3.12
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 5298
Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh, Zed Books, 1992
Introduction to Wellbeing
Watch short and accessible guide to wellbeing, plus some suggestions for further reading, which is part of DFID’s e-learning resources for professional development.
I am a sociologist of international development and wellbeing. My research explores the tensions between local experience and global policy narratives, with a particular emphasis on culture and social identities. I enjoy working at the interface of theory and practice and challenging disciplinary boundaries.
Since 2002 the main focus of my research has been wellbeing in developing countries, most recently through my ESRC/DFID grant in India and Zambia, Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways, 2010-14. This engages with national and international ‘real world’ debates about what matters to people and how policy can best reflect this. I have therefore worked closely with practitioners in international NGOs, sharing ideas and experience on integrating wellbeing in their programmes, resulting in Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment. A Practical Guide (2014).
My new edited collection, Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy is due out in November 2015 (Palgrave Macmillan). This challenges conventional psychological perspectives on happiness and subjective wellbeing with a more socially grounded approach. Highlighting the politics of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, case studies across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the UK explore wellbeing in relation to health, children and youth, migration, economics, religion, family, landmines, national surveys, and indigenous identities.
My first book, Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh (Zed Books, 1992) was a village-based ethnographic study, which questioned conventional development understandings of women and gender relations in Bangladesh. This attention to the politics of development discourse, particularly with respect to the representation of social identities and relationships, has been a continuing theme throughout my work on gender, masculinities, race, agency, child rights, NGOs and civil society, participation, marriage, the family and religion. Geographically my main focus has continued to be South Asia, especially Bangladesh, although my recent research has enabled me to strengthen my comparative experience, through the study in Zambia.
- Culture and Wellbeing
- Gender and Child Rights
- Religion and Race
White, S., 2014. Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment:A practical guide. Practical Action Publishing.
White, S. and Eyber, C., 2016. Positive mental health and wellbeing. In: White, R., Jain, S., Orr, D. M. and Read, U., eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mental Health. Basingstoke, U. K.: Palgrave Macmillan.
White, S. and Ramirez, V., 2015. Economics and subjectivities of wellbeing in rural Zambia. In: White, S. C. and Blackmore, C., eds. Cultures of Wellbeing. Basingstoke, U. K.: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 118-143.
White, S. and Jha, S., 2015. ‘The weight falls on my shoulders’:close relationships and women’s wellbeing in India. In: White, S. C. and Blackmore, C., eds. Cultures of Wellbeing. Basingstoke, U. K.: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 144-171.
Gaines, S. and White, S. C., 2014. Developing nations and developing surveys:Measuring inner wellbeing in Zambia and India, 2010-2013. In: Jackson, L., Meiring, D., Van de Vijver, F. and Idemudia, E., eds. Toward Sustainable Development Through Nurturing Diversity. Melbourne, U. S. A.: International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, pp. 96-112. (Selected Papers from the 22nd International Congress of the IACCP.)
White, S., Marshall, N., Jha, S. and Gaines, S., 2014. Wellbeing assessment in practice:Lessons from Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways. In: Rowley, J., ed. Wellbeing Ranking. Rugby: Practical Action Publishing, pp. 111-126.
White, S., 2013. Making international development personal. In: Butcher, M. and Papaioannou, T., eds. New Perspectives in International Development. London: The Open University/Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 191-214. (International Development)
White, S., 2011. Depoliticizing development: the uses and abuses of participation. In: Cornwall, A., ed. The Participation Reader. London: Zed Books, pp. 57-69.
White, S. C., 2011. The 'gender lens':a racial blinder? In: Visvanathan, N., Duggan, L., Wiegersma, N. and Nisonoff, L., eds. The Women, Gender and Development Reader (2nd Ed.). London, U. K.: Zed Books, pp. 95-98.
White, S. C. and Choudhury, S. A., 2010. Children's participation in Bangladesh: Issues of agency and structures of violence. In: Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N., eds. A Handbook of Children and Young People's Participation: Perspectives from Theory and Practice. London, U. K.: Routledge, pp. 39-50.
White, S. and Pettit, J., 2007. Participatory approaches and the measurement of human well-being. In: McGillivray, M., ed. Human Well-being: Concept and Measurement. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 240-267.
White, S. and Ellison, M., 2007. Wellbeing, livelihoods and resources in social practice. In: Gough, I. and McGregor, J. A., eds. Wellbeing in Developing Countries: New Approaches and Research Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
White, S. C. and Pettit, J., 2004. Participatory methods and the measurement of well-being. In: Chambers, R., Kenton, N. and Ashley, H., eds. Participatory Learning and Action 50: Critical reflections, future directions. London: IIED, pp. 88-96.
White, S. C., 2016. Patriarchal investments:marriage, dowry and the political economy of development in Bangladesh. Journal of Contemporary Asia
White, S. C., Fernandez, A. and Jha, S., 2016. Beyond the grumpy rich man and the happy peasant:mixed methods and the impact of food security on subjective dimensions of wellbeing in India. Oxford Development Studies, 44 (3), pp. 332-348.
White, S. C., 2015. Qualitative perspectives on the impact evaluation of girls’ empowerment in Bangladesh. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 7 (2), pp. 127-145.
White, S. C., Gaines, S. O. and Jha, S., 2014. Inner wellbeing:Concept and validation of a new approach to subjective perceptions of wellbeing—India. Social Indicators Research, 119 (2), pp. 1-24.
White, S. C. and Jha, S., 2014. The Ethical Imperative of Qualitative Methods:Developing Measures of Subjective Dimensions of Well-Being in Zambia and India. Ethics and Social Welfare, 8 (3).
Devine, J. and White, S. C., 2013. Religion, politics and the everyday moral order in Bangladesh. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 43 (1), pp. 127-147.
White, S. C., 2012. Beyond the paradox:religion, family and modernity in contemporary Bangladesh. Modern Asian Studies, 46 (5), pp. 1429-1458.
White, S. C., Gaines, S. O. and Jha, S., 2012. Beyond subjective well-being: a critical review of the Stiglitz Report approach to subjective perspectives on quality of life. Journal of International Development, 24 (6), pp. 763-776.
White, S.C., Devine, J. and Jha, S., 2012. The life a person lives: Religion, well-being and development in India:La vie que mène une personne: Religion, bien-ětre et développement en Inde. Development in Practice, 22 (5-6), pp. 651-662.
White, S. C., 2010. Domains of contestation: women's empowerment and Islam in Bangladesh. Women's Studies International Forum, 33 (4), pp. 334-344.
White, S. C., 2010. Analysing wellbeing: a framework for development practice. Development in Practice, 20 (2), pp. 158-172.
White, S. C., 2007. Children's rights and the imagination of community in Bangladesh. Childhood, 14 (4), pp. 505-520.
White, S. C. and Choudhury, S. A., 2007. The politics of child participation in international development: the dilemma of agency. European Journal of Development Research, 19 (4), pp. 529-50.
White, S. C., 2002. Being, becoming and relationship: conceptual challenges of a child rights approach in development. Journal of International Development, 14 (8), pp. 1095-1104.
White, S., 2002. From the Politics of Poverty to the Politics of Identity? Child Rights and Working Children in Bangladesh. Journal of International Development, 14 (6), pp. 725-735.
White, S. C., 2016. Forthcoming. James Ferguson, Give a Man a Fish. Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Book review. Journal of Development Studies.
White, S. C., 2015. Relational Wellbeing:a Theoretical and Operational Approach.Vol. 43. Working Paper. Bath, U. K.: Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath.
White, S. C. and Jha, S., 2014. Social Protection and Wellbeing:Food Security in Adivasi communities, Chhattisgarh, India. Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath. (Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways; Briefing No 3)
White, S. C. and Jha, S., 2013. The Politics of Wellbeing, Conservation and Development in Chiawa, Zambia. Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath. (Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways; Briefing No 2)
White, S. C., 2013. Beyond the Grumpy Rich Man and the Happy Peasant:Subjective Perspectives on Wellbeing and Food Security in Rural India. Working Paper. Bath: Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath. (Bath Papers in International Development and Well-being; BPD25)
White, S. C., 2013. Patriarchal investments:marriage, dowry and economic change in rural Bangladesh. Working Paper. Bath, U. K.: Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath. (Bath Papers in International Development; BPD19)
White, S. C., 2009. Bringing Wellbeing into Development Practice. Working Paper. Bath, UK: University of Bath/Wellbeing in Developing Countries Research Group. (Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) Working Papers; WeD Working Paper 09)
White, S. C., 2009. Analyzing Wellbeing: A Framework for Development Practice. Working Paper. Bath: University of Bath/Wellbeing in Developing Countries Research Group. (Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) Working Papers; WeD Working Paper 09)
White, S. C., 2009. Beyond the Paradox: Religion, Family and Modernity in Contemporary Bangladesh. Working Paper. Birmingham, UK: International Development Department, University of Birmingham.
Conference or Workshop Items
White, S. C., 2013. The political potential of a wellbeing approach: A case study from Zambia:Based on the published paper: The Politics of Wellbeing, Conservation and Development in Chiawa, Zambia. In: DSA Annual Conference 2013, 2013-11-16 - 2013-11-16.