Gough’s Definition of Needs and His Different Categories for Basic Human Needs

In this essay I will be looking at Gough’s definition of needs and his different categories for basic human needs, whilst briefly examining his moral argument for welfare; I will then concentrate on the Islamic republic of Iran, analysing its social security and welfare system, investigating the ways in which Iran’s government attempts to provide these rights for its citizens. This then leads me to consider the criticisms made against Iran’s government for its lack of support and the rising number of people living below the absolute poverty line.

As according to Gough’s study on human needs, human needs differ from their wants in the sense that wants are more inclusive and although an individual can be harmed as a result being denied of their wants, one is in risk of significant harm when denied their needs. Needs are also different from preferences, as preferences are only revealed to the individual once they have made choices.Doyal and Gough identified eleven categories of fundamental human needs; these include nutritional food, clean water, protective shelter, security in childhood and significant primary relationships, which in the majority of cases, are offered to individuals by the family. This is followed by a non-hazardous work environment, a non-hazardous physical environment, appropriate health care, appropriate education, safe birth control & child bearing, physical security and emotional and economic security which are the responsibility of the government.Gough’s moral argument for welfare suggests that a membership within a group implies duties and responsibilities towards the group. Ascribing duties to any member would presume that the individual is able to perform the duties. If we apply this initiative to each society, then in order for each individual to be able to carry out their obligations to the state, it is the state’s responsibility to provide need satisfiers.

In order to ensure that individuals are dedicated active members of the society, their duties are awarded with entitlements.Iran claims to have a comprehensive Social Security and Welfare System, where all employed individuals are expected to contribute to State Social Security Fund and the Employment Fund. Whilst the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security policies are based on charities, this is done in the form of a complex insurance system, where, through their insurance, individuals can have access to their right of social security benefits such as retirement pensions, unemployment benefits, old age pensions and disability benefits.Individuals can get private insurance through their employers for themselves and their family, which consists of other reimbursements such medical, sickness, maternity, and work injury benefits; if unemployed, an orphan, single, unsupported and with a low income, individuals are provided with state insurance. The insurance will pay out a contribution of about 1/5 towards any medical treatments and medication expenses.This leaves the support for the disabled, the old, and those in poverty in the hands of government run charities and private charities. ‘The Imam Khomeini relief foundation’, Iran’s most recognized government funded charity is accountable for identifying individuals living in poverty and supplying them with monthly maintenance allowances.

As described by their website, the foundation aims to carry out tasks such as uprooting poverty, supporting and giving relief to the deprived and the oppressed people and making them self sufficient.Whilst this institution is liable for supporting individuals with disabilities with special education and benefits for being unable to work and benefits to orphans and single parents, private charities have done more work towards building various orphanages and shelters for mothers and children. Although there are many charities currently working in order to help the less fortunate and the oppressed in Iran, fifteen million people living below the poverty line is still a shocking amount, and it leaves individuals to question the welfare system in their country.Applying Gough’s concept of human needs to individuals in Iran, we can see by the welfare policies that the government of Iran is striving to support those in need. However, criticisms towards Iran’s government for the way in which they have dealt with the rising number of individuals suffering from absolute poverty have been made by underground political activists, through websites and illegal political meetings. As mentioned in a recent article published by ISNA, the number of people in Iran living below the absolute poverty line has now reached over fifteen million.The article further explains that living under the absolute poverty line means being unable to afford a 2,000 calorie meal a day, which fifteen million Iranians are unable to do.

Nutritional food was recognised by Gough as the first basic need for human beings, and although it is the third largest supplier of oil, Iran fails to supply its citizens with this. Overall, using Gough’s concept, we can conclude that the Iranian government fails to address even the most asic needs for its individuals and even with the use of both government funded charities and private charities, they cannot prevent the rising number of families in absolute poverty. The revolution of 1979 has shown no advantages for oppressed people and Individuals find themselves unable to escape poverty as a result of the economic structure of the country, the rising gap between the rich and the poor and the lack of social activities for the poorer individuals.However, I strongly believe that if the government were to approach people’s needs and poverty in Iran from a different angle, it would prove more successful than it has in the past. They should aim to redistribute their resources and funds to a wider variety of people in order to eliminate poverty rather than concentrating on the individuals they have always supported such as families of Martyrs of the gulf far as a form of compensation.Similar to all other societies, as a result of capitalism, the gap between the rich and the poor is highly increasing, and the two groups are becoming more segregated from each other. This leaves a lack of communication amongst individuals of the society, the government being part of the richer half, unable to address even the very basic needs of the poor.

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