The Open UniversitySkip to content

Subjective dimensions of human rights: what do ordinary people understand by ‘human rights’

Stenner, Paul (2011). Subjective dimensions of human rights: what do ordinary people understand by ‘human rights’. The International Journal of Human Rights, 15(8) pp. 1215–1233.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (172kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This article addresses how non-experts understand the general notion of human rights. After a discussion of the various ways in which human rights are understood by experts and lay people, new Q methodological results are presented. Results support previous research in suggesting the existence of at least four distinct ways of understanding human rights: as grounded universals; as a focus for radical political action; as socio-political constructions; and as agreements balanced against responsibilities. Other understandings draw upon religious foundations and notions of community belonging. These ways of understanding human rights are described in empirical detail and their implications for human rights discourse briefly discussed.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1744-053X
Keywords: Q methodology; subjective dimensions of human rights
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 30126
Depositing User: Paul Stenner
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2011 10:06
Last Modified: 15 May 2018 15:39
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU