(Abstract) The notion of “needs” appears in a multitude of scientific fields, but there is little review of the literature on the subject from an interdisciplinary perspective. The term is often mentioned without being explicitly defined, as if it were self-evident. After tracking the notion of need in different disciplines, we have come to distinguish two main approaches to this notion. The first recognizes the existence of “absolute” or “objective” needs and attempts to prioritize them or not. The second brings together various perspectives that can be described as “relativistic”. Among these, we distinguish those that recognize the notion but refuse to define it, because needs would be unlimited and a function of the subjective utility of each person. Finally, we conclude this review of the literature with some thoughts on how to think about the articulation of needs and democratic processes.
Keywords: needs, resources, well-being, preferences, satisfaction, hierarchy, synergy, capability.
Author: Ambre Fourrier, PhD candidate in sociology at the Université du Québec à Montréal