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Capabilities and Personal Identity: Using Sen to explain personal identity in Folbre's 'structures of constraint' analysis


  • John Davis


Folbre's 'structures of constraint' analysis treats women as socially embedded in 'multiple, often contradictory positions, because they belong to multiple groups'. This paper addresses the problem of women's multiple collective identities by arguing that Sen's capability framework offers a means of explaining how women can maintain coherent personal identities. Using Sen's real opportunities sense of capabilities, the paper argues that women can acquire personal identities apart from their multiple collective identities if they acquire the specific capability of being able, freely and successfully, to negotiate their multiple group involvements. Folbre's list of policies for a more egalitarian family is reconsidered from this perspective.

Suggested Citation

  • John Davis, 2002. "Capabilities and Personal Identity: Using Sen to explain personal identity in Folbre's 'structures of constraint' analysis," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 481-496.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:14:y:2002:i:4:p:481-496
    DOI: 10.1080/0953825022000009915

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    Cited by:

    1. Mary Wrenn, 2014. "Identity, Identity Politics, and Neoliberalism," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(4), pages 503-515, September.

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