Analysis Of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach

1549 Words 7 Pages
Amartya Sen’s capability approach is a theoretical framework for the evaluation of individual welfare. It provides a theoretical basis for inequality, poverty and policy analysis. In the recent decades the capability approach has gained much popularity as emphasis is laid on human development that goes beyond the previously important notions of sheer economic development. The earlier aspects of capability approach can be traced in the works of Aristotle, Karl Marx and Adam Smith; however, it is the economist philosopher Amartya Sen who pioneered in the development of this model (The capability approach, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011). The fundamental concepts and claims central to this evaluative framework are that of ‘functioning’ …show more content…
what he manages to do or to be” (Kuklys & Robeyns, 2005, p. 10). These constitute an individual’s activities and states of being such as being literate, being healthy, being a part of a community and so forth. Furthermore, functioning can be univocally be good (being in good health) or univocally bad (being raped). However, it is also important to point that the goodness or badness of several other functioning’s may not be univocal or straightforward as such. Instead, it might depend on the normative theory that we endorse. For instance, is the care work of the mother who is caring full time a valuable functioning or not? The answer is twofold. First, if viewed from a conservative approach it appears to be a valuable functioning. However, if the same is looked from the perspective of a feminist-liberal approach it will only be a valuable functioning if the work is an autonomous choice set against a background of equal opportunities. ‘Capability’ on the other hand is a derived notion that reflects the various functioning’s an individual can potentially achieve, and involves the person’s freedom to choose between different ways of …show more content…
The very first two applications of capability approach were made by Sen himself, and were meant to basically illustrate the core concepts working behind this approach. Using the data from 1980-1982, he observed that roughly equivalent GNP of Mexico and Brazil was 7 times more than the GNP of India, China and Sri Lanka. However, performances in infant mortality rates, life expectancies and child death rates were best in Sri Lanka, better in China compared to India and in Mexico compared to Brazil. Another conclusion was that India performed badly regarding basic education but had better tertiary education rates compared to China and Sri Lanka. Thus, Sen concluded that the public policy of China and especially Sri Lanka towards distributing food, public health measures, medical services and educational policies have led to their remarkable achievements in the capabilities of survival and functioning’s (Robeyns, 2003, p.26). What does this application teach us on capability approach? First, ranking of countries based on GNP per capita is different than those based on selected functioning’s. Second, a growth in GNP per capita should not be equated with growth in living

Related Documents