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Needs as claims.

Spicker, Paul


Paul Spicker


People 'need' things if they will suffer negative effects without them. Needs are based in problems, but they are not only problems; they have to be understood in terms of a relationship between functional problems and resources. Needs are a form of claim made against services. The concept of 'need' is not decisive in the allocation of resources, and this paper argues that the concept has to be understood as a form of claim-language. Once needs are understood in terms of claims, many of the apparent difficulties in conceptualising the issues dissolve; the main conflicts are between different types of claims, rather than contested definitions of need. Similarly, the establishment of priorities between greater and lesser needs depends on the strength of the claim which the needs present, and the context in which services operate, rather than on intrinsic comparisons between different levels of need. It follows that need is often not the sole, or even the primary, determinant of the legitimacy of a claim. Greater needs only have priority over lesser ones if they also constitute a claim of a different, and stronger, kind.


SPICKER, P. 1993. Needs as claims. Social policy and administration [online], 27(1), pages 7-17. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 31, 1993
Online Publication Date Mar 31, 1993
Publication Date Mar 31, 1993
Deposit Date Oct 8, 2013
Publicly Available Date Oct 8, 2013
Journal Social policy and administration
Print ISSN 0144-5596
Electronic ISSN 1467-9515
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 7-17
Public URL


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