In economics (and social sciences more generally), the nature of the role of the individual in the community or state has been a persistent question. Every society must address the question (either implicitly or explicitly), “How can the autonomy (or freedom or liberty) of an individual be maintained and at the same time provide for the commonweal (social welfare)?” In some societies, the individual is regarded as more important than the community. In other societies, the community has priority over the individual. From a practical perspective, the problem is to balance the rights and freedom of the individual with the functions of the community.
There are several perspectives about the most appropriate ways to achieve that balance. While dealing with this balance, the allocation or provisioning problem must be resolved.