Human need is a central but contested concept in social policy and the social sciences. This book provides an accessible overview of the subject using concepts from many disciplines. It presents a unique integrative model that shows how the main approaches may be reflected in social policy goals. The author engages with recent debates which advance our understanding of human need, including human wellbeing and 'happiness'; poverty, social exclusion and global inequality; human difference, the diversity of needs and the concept of human capabilities. Most crucially, the book explores how human needs may be translated into rights and how these can be informed by a politics of human need. The book offers essential insights for students of social policy, but will also be of interest to other social science disciplines, policy makers and political activists.