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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details

Atkinson, S. Beyond components of wellbeing: the effects of relational and situated assemblage. Topoi. 2013;32:137-144.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite multiple axes of variation in defining wellbeing, the paper argues for the dominance of a ‘components approach’ in current research and practice. This approach builds on a well-established tradition within the social sciences of attending to categories whether for their identification, their value or their meanings and political resonance. The paper critiques the components approach and explores how to move beyond it towards conceptually integrating the various categories and dimensions through a relational and situated account of wellbeing. Drawing on more fluid social sciences, wellbeing is framed as an effect, dependent on the mobilisation of resources from everyday encounters with complex assemblages of people, things and places. Through such a framing, wellbeing can be conceived of as stable and amenable to change, as individual and collective and as subjective and objective. Policy interventions then need to attend to the relationalities of particular social and spatial contexts.