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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.

Suggested Citation

  • William Jackson, 2005. "Capabilities, Culture and Social Structure," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(1), pages 101-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:63:y:2005:i:1:p:101-124
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760500048048
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Freeman, Chris & Louca, Francisco, 2002. "As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199251056.
    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 University Rotterdam.
    2. Mabsout, Ramzi, 2015. "Mindful capability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 86-97.
    3. Peter Narh, 2016. "Sand winning in Dormaa as an interlocking of livelihood strategies with environmental governance regimes," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 467-480, April.

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