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Developing and agreeing a capability list in the British context: What can be learnt from social survey data on ‘rights’?

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  • Polly Vizard
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    Abstract

    The paper examines what can be learnt about the 'valuation' of freedoms and opportunities (or capabilities) using a general population social survey data source on values. On the assumption that rights can be understood as protecting underlying critical freedoms and opportunities, social survey data on public attitudes towards the rights that people "should have" is interpreted as providing empirical evidence on the 'valuation' of freedoms and opportunities by individuals and groups. The paper addresses the extent to which data of this type provides empirical evidence of the 'valuation' of the 10 domains of freedom and opportunity that are specified in the capability lists for adults and children that have been developed and applied in previous projects (namely, Life; Health; Physical security; Legal security; Standard of living; Education and learning; Productive and valued activities; Individual, family and social life; Identity and self-respect; Participation, influence and voice). Particular emphasis is put on moving beyond the 'legalistic' methodology for deriving a 'human rights-based capability list' applied in previous projects, and examining whether empirical research on values provides an alternative, overlapping or supplementary informational base for deriving a list of this type. The research findings can be interpreted as providing broad empirical underpinnings for the 'valuation' of nine out of the ten domains of freedom and opportunity specified in the capability lists that have been developed and applied in previous projects. The Life domain was effectively not covered by the research exercise, since the underlying social survey data did not include questions on public attitudes towards the right to life.

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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cp/CASEpaper142.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE in its series CASE Papers with number case142.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case142

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    Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/case/_new/publications/default.asp

    Related research

    Keywords: Capability approach; capability lists; human rights; public attitudes; values;

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    1. Paul Anand & Cristina Santos & Ron Smith, 2007. "The measurement of capabilities," Open Discussion Papers in Economics 67, The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
    2. Ingrid Robeyns, 2005. "Selecting Capabilities for Quality of Life Measurement," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 191-215, October.
    3. Paul Anand & Graham Hunter & Ian Carter & Keith Dowding & Francesco Guala & Martin Van Hees, 2009. "The Development of Capability Indicators," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 125-152.
    4. Sarah Smith, 2004. "Can the retirement consumption puzzle be solved?," IFS Working Papers W04/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    5. Mario Biggeri & Renato Libanora & Stefano Mariani & Leonardo Menchini, 2006. "Children Conceptualizing their Capabilities: Results of a Survey Conducted during the First Children's World Congress on Child Labour," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 59-83.
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