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Capabilities, social rights and European market integration


  • Jude Browne
  • Simon Deakin
  • Frank Wilkinson


This paper explores the links between the economic notion of 'capabilities' and the judicial concept of social rights. We begin by revisiting TH Marshall's classic analysis of social rights and their ambiguous relationship to the market. We then examine how far Amartya Sen's Capabilities Approach provides a framework for locating social rights within a market setting. We argue that Sen's non-dogmatic, context-orientated approach to defining the meaning of capabilities offers a viable way forward for thinking about the current tension between market rights and social rights in the European Union. This argument is illustrated by reference to the role played by mechanisms of corporate social responsibility in promoting gender equality.

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  • Jude Browne & Simon Deakin & Frank Wilkinson, 2002. "Capabilities, social rights and European market integration," Working Papers wp253, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp253
    Note: PRO-2

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    capabilities; social rights; European single market;

    JEL classification:

    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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