What is the Capability Approach about?

The capability approach (CA), developed by Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum and other social theorists is a broad, human-centred normative framework for the evaluation of individual and group well-being, quality of life and social justice. Sen and Nussbaum’s ideas have influenced global, national and local policy, such as the annual Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Programme since 1990, over 500 regional or country-level Human Development Reports and many local policy initiatives in different countries. The CA has also been influential in a number of academic disciplines, inspiring a vast and expanding literature in diverse fields of academic and policy research, evaluation and practice. The approach has been taken up most notably in development, international justice and human rights and, more recently, also in welfare, social policy, the labour market, education, gender, health and disability. However, so far have the CA remains largely unnoticed in sociology. In this interview, Martha Nussbaum explains briefly the rationale behind her version of the capability approach.  In this article, I try to explain why this is, and why the capability approach could be very interesting and useful for sociologists and can contribute to a publicly engaged sociology.  Below are some resources on the Capability approach and examples of its application.

Bibliography
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