The Capability Approach: Concepts, Measures and Applications

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The capability approach developed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has become an important new paradigm in thinking about development. However, despite its theoretical and philosophical attractiveness, it has been less easy to measure or to translate into policy. This volume addresses these issues in the context of poverty and justice. Part I offers a set of conceptual essays that debate the strength of the often misunderstood individual focus of the capability approach. Part II investigates the techniques by which we can measure and compare capabilities, and how we can integrate them into poverty comparisons and policy advice. Finally, Part III looks at how we can apply the capability approach to different regions and contexts. Written by a team of international scholars, The Capability Approach is a valuable resource for researchers and graduate students concerned with the debate over the value of the capability approach and its potential applications.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review of the hardback: 'Amartya Sen's notion of capabilities is a rich source of new ideas and philosophical debates about such diverse and wide ranging issues as development, poverty, inequality, human rights, gender, identity and democracy. Here is a collection of well-researched and cogently written essays discussing these many aspects and taking the debates further. It will provide a quarry of ideas for policy makers, researchers, teachers and students of these many issues.' Lord Meghnad Desai, Emeritus Professor of Economics and former director of the Centre for Global Governance, London School of Economics

Review of the hardback: 'These essays on Amartya Sen's capability approach to thinking about human well-being, and so about poverty and development, raise fundamental questions. Can a capabilities approach yield coherent and convincing concepts of well-being and of poverty, or ways of measuring them? What, if anything, does it do better than income- or resource-based approaches? Or is a demand that it 'do better' in the terms of its rivals simply evidence of failure to think through the implications of taking capabilities, and thereby human agency and diversity, seriously? If so, how should the success of work based on capabilities be judged? Why is there so much disagreement over the supposed individualism of the capabilities approach? Has the approach led to significant practical initiatives? The essays in this ample collection offer a rich and often detailed reflection on these and other fundamental questions, and some sharp analyses of central questions about capabilities.' Baroness Onora O'Neill, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521862875
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2008
  • Pages: 636
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Flavio Comim is Director of the Capability and Sustainability Centre at St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge.

Mozaffar Qizilbash is Professor of Politics, Economics and Philosophy at the University of York.

Sabina Alkire is Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford and Research Associate with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; Introduction; 1. Using the capability approach: prospective and evaluative analyses Sabina Alkire; Part I. Concepts: 2. Amartya Sen's capability view: insightful sketch or distorted picture? Mozaffar Qizilbash; 3. Sen's capability approach and feminist concerns Ingrid Robeyns; 4. Beyond individual freedom and agency: structures of living together in the capability approach to development Séverine Deneulin; 5. Does identity matter? On the relevance of identity and interaction for capabilities Miriam Teschl and Laurent Derobert; 6. Measuring Capabilities Flavio Comim; Part II. Measures: 7. Do concepts matter? An empirical investigation of the differences between a capability and a monetary assessment of poverty Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi; 8. Social exclusion in the EU: a capability-based approach Fotis Papadopoulos and Panos Tsakloglou; 9. Complexity and vagueness in the capability approach: strengths or weaknesses? Enrica Chiappero Martinetti; 10. Operationalising Sen's capability approach: the influence of the selected technique Sara Lelli; 11. Operationalizing capabilities in a segmented society: the role of institutions Kanchan Chopra and Anantha Kumar Duraiappah; Part III. Applications: 12. Democracy, decentralisation and access to basic services: an elaboration on Sen's capability approach Santosh Mehrotra; 13. Reinforcing household's capabilities as a way to reduce vulnerability and prevent poverty in equitable terms Jean-Luc Dubois and Sophie Rousseau; 14. Capabilities over the lifecourse: at what age does poverty damage most? Shahin Yaqub; 15. Social policy and the ability to appear in public without shame: some lessons from a food relief programme in Kinshasa Tom De Herdt; 16. The capability approach and gendered education:some issues of operationalisation in the context of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in South Africa Elaine Unterhalter; 17. Women and poverty In Mozambique: is there a gender bias In capabilities, employment conditions and living standards? Pier Giogio Ardeni and Antonio Andracchio; 18. From the quantity to the quality of employment: an application of the capability approach to the Chilean labour market Kirsten Sehnbruch; Index.

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