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Development as Freedom


  • Haider Ali Khan

    (GSIS, University of Denver)


This chapter offers a historical and analytical introduction to the school of thought that views 'development as freedom'. Since it is impossible to do justice to the depth and complexity of this 'new' approach to development in just one short chapter, I explore a few significant dimensions of the concept beginning with Amartya Sen's pioneering contributions. I also look at clarifications by Nussbaum and others who offer a list of important functionings that can be included in the capabilities set. The subsequent part builds on this by exploring the transition from a utilitarian welfare economics to a fully social capabilities based ethics for development with justice. The present chapter proceeds in the direction of concretizing the idea of 'development as freedom' by discussing the role of a network of social, economic and political institutions in creating social capabilities. This allows us to develop the argument that freedom is to be viewed dynamically as the development of appropriate social capabilities embedded in a specific network of social, economic and political institutions. The following section then presents an example of a concrete area of application--- namely, the problem of developing women's capabilities as an important aspect of global justice--- in order to illustrate the practical relevance of the capabilities approach. The final, concluding section reflects on the future of the social capabilities approach as an evaluative framework for development theory and policy. It turns out that in addition to the usual list of capabilities, and policies driven by them in the field of development, a deep democratic constitution backed up by ongoing democratizing social and political movement is an integral part of the historical project of enhancing social capabilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Haider Ali Khan, 2004. "Development as Freedom," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-257, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2004cf257

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    References listed on IDEAS

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