Building capabilities: A new paradigm for human development

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Much of the applied work on the capabilities approach has focused on evaluation. The approach has been used as a foundation for the human development perspective and for evaluating human well-being in a variety of situations. Most notably, in Martha C. Nussbaum's work the approach has been used to put forward minimum requirements of justice, questioning conventional ideas of social cooperation, equality and human rights. But in her work, differently from what has been suggested by many commentators (e.g. Uyan-Semerci, 2007; Anand et al., 2005), we can find more than a list of necessary conditions for a decently just society leading to the elaboration of constitutional principles. Throughout the years Nussbaum has put forward a range of policy proposals for building capabilities that have remained largely unappreciated by the human development literature (in particular by Human Development Reports (HDRs)). And yet, these proposals have the potential to revolutionise the way in which we think about development policies. Within this context, the main objective of this chapter is to delve into, and elaborate further, Nussbaum's ideas on 'building capabilities' (in contrast to using the approach exclusively to evaluate capabilities). The chapter tries to move beyond a mere compilation of Nussbaum's writings and focuses on concrete policy recommendations that can be derived from the characterisation of her proposal for 'building capabilities'. In general, when capabilities enter into the discourse of what can be called 'traditional human development policies' (e.g. in HDRs), it is to justify broad support for health and education policies as 'capability-expansion policies'. However, this particular use of the approach, namely, as a philosophical justification of implicit normative choices carried out by human development policies, is very narrow given that it does not produce implications that are substantively different from those derived (as they should be) from other approaches, such as the basic needs approach or more instrumental approaches like human capital (for instance, for the formulation of 'capabilities-oriented' educational policies).

Idioma originalAnglès
Títol de la publicacióCapabilities, Gender, Equality
Subtítol de la publicacióTowards Fundamental Entitlements
EditorCambridge University Press
Nombre de pàgines24
ISBN (electrònic)9781139059138
ISBN (imprès)9781107015692
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 1 de gen. 2012
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