Entelechy of Human Flourishing in the World Polity: The Realization of Potential, Freedom, and Social Justice in the Digital Age

Erik W Kuiler, George Mason University
Connie L McNeely, George Mason University

Underserved, neglected communities in countries around the world have been studied from perspectives reflecting a range of approaches to understanding their plight. However, it is also the complexity attending such issues that often demands a more encompassing engagement of related questions and points of view. With this understanding in mind, the research presented here contributes to a unified, integrative, and cohesive approach to support in-depth analyses. Adopting a comparative historical perspective, it attends particularly to power asymmetries entrenched in social, cultural, economic, and political institutions that constrain the integration of neglected populations into the socio-political and digital environments of the common weal. Wellbeing, understood in terms of both temporal and spatial dynamics, applies at distinct levels of analysis: individual, commonwealth, nation-state, and world polity. For individuals, human capabilities, choice, freedom, and access to opportunities affect not only subjective definitions of wellbeing in the context of polity or commonwealth but also the likelihood of achieving personal wellbeing. Anchored in recognition of historical shifts and drawing insights from across the social sciences and humanities, an analytical framework is presented that focuses on the entelechy of wellbeing, specifically on human capacities for conation, cognition, and volition, and interdependencies among commodities, capabilities, and utilities to achieve human wellbeing, as a means to address the plight of neglected populations. The framework first establishes a context of human rights and then focuses on the nexus of gender, race/ethnicity, other societal delineations, and access to knowledge and digital resources and on how interdependencies among these factors affect the achievement of wellbeing by undervalued communities. Also, the framework limns a number of strategies for bridging knowledge, digital, and global divides that exacerbate power asymmetries that affect such communities. This framework not only supports academic research but also the development of practical solutions by policymakers, program developers, and educators.

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 Presented in Session 156. Figuring Global Politics