Beyond Redistribution: Relational Perspectives on Economic Justice

Published on 1 January 2009

To successfully address economic injustices, redistribution policies must be designed to recognise the webs of societal relations that influence people’s economic choices. Such relational webs shape and are shaped by the diverse ways in which goods and services are procured – a process that can severely limit the ability of some people to lead fulfilling and decent lives.

Frequently, policy approaches treat people as autonomous individuals, ignoring how relational power shapes and constrains their choices. This brief puts forward an alternative approach. A relational perspective can help policy makers and activists better understand the social processes that can hinder progress towards equitable outcomes.

Unlike conventional approaches to economic analysis, a relational approach highlights the voices, views and experiences of those whose relational lives are largely unknown to those setting economic policy. This briefing highlights the value of such an approach and of the importance of ‘recognition’ and ‘representation’ for successful redistribution policies.


Rosalind Eyben

Emeritus Fellow

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

Publication details

published by
Eyben, R with Sabates-Wheeler, R., Carroll, K. and Asmon, I.
Smithyes, C.
IDS In Focus Policy Briefing, volume 11, issue 4


Related content


Qualitative Analysis of 400 Life Stories from Children and Young People Working in the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Nepal

CLARISSA Research and Evidence Paper 7

28 May 2024