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Capabilities, Culture and Social Structure

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  • William Jackson

Abstract

Sen's capability approach has a culturally specific side, with capabilities influenced by social structures and institutions. Although Sen acknowledges this, he expresses his theory in individualistic terms and makes little allowance for culture or social structure. The present paper draws from recent social theory to discuss how the capability approach could be developed to give an explicit treatment of cultural and structural matters. Capabilities depend not only on entitlements but on institutional roles and personal relations: these can be represented openly if capabilities are disaggregated into individual, social and structural capacities. The three layers interact, and a full analysis of capabilities should consider them all. A stratified method implies that raising entitlements will not on its own be enough to enhance capabilities and that cultural and structural changes will be needed.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00346760500048048
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.

Volume (Year): 63 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 101-124

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Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:63:y:2005:i:1:p:101-124

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Related research

Keywords: capability approach; culture; human agency; social structure; social policy;

References

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  1. Lindon Robison & A. Allan Schmid & Marcelo Siles, 2002. "Is Social Capital Really Capital?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 60(1), pages 1-21.
  2. Freeman, Chris & Louca, Francisco, 2001. "As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241071.
  3. Gasper, D.R., 1993. "Entitlements analysis : relating concepts and contexts," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18849, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
  4. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2001. "Metaphors of Knowledge in Economics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(1), pages 71-91.
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Cited by:
  1. Dolfsma, W.A. & Verburg, R.M., 2005. "Bridging Structure and Agency: Processes of Institutional Change," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-064-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.

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