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Human Development &
Capability Association

Multi-Disciplinary and People-Centred

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Book Launch: The Social Construction of Capabilities in a Tamil Village

April 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm BST

Book Launch: The Social Construction of Capabilities in a Tamil Village
L. N. Venkataraman

Join us for a discussion about this new book, including a Q&A with Dr Rosie Peppin Vaughan. There will also be a chance for the audience to ask questions.

Is an equitable distribution of opportunities possible within a stratified social system in which caste-based socio-economic privileges are inherited and social mobility constrained? The Social Construction of Capabilities in a Tamil Village answers this question by analysing the intersections between caste, class and education, and argues that capabilities—that is, the competence or life skills one acquires through education—are socially constructed and not an inherent trait of the individual.

In the 1960s, renowned sociologist André Béteille conducted social anthropological fieldwork on caste, class and power in a south Indian village pseudonymously named Sripuram in Tamil Nadu. Revisiting the same village five decades later, this book studies caste, class and education across diverse social groups, and especially among the educated unemployed or underemployed youth. Through interviews and everyday interactions with the residents of Sripuram, the author studies the complexities of deprivations and coping strategies of the poor within their socio-economic spheres.

Exploring tensions inherent within the caste system, this intersectional perspective has broad significance for the global discourse on development on India. This book will interest sociologists, public policy analysts and development experts.

L. N. Venkataraman is a Faculty at the Department of Policy Studies in TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS). Before joining TERI SAS, he worked as an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Education in Universität Bielefeld, Germany; and, at the Centre for Development Support in the University of the Free State, South Africa. His academic works can be consulted in the Economic and Political Weekly, Development in Practice, and Indian Journal of Human Development among others.

As a university professional, he has been closely associated with various scholars; public intellectuals in India as well as abroad; and actively sharing perspectives and delivering lectures. He was a Research Fellow of the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED) in South Africa, and the Research School on Education and Capabilities (EduCap) in Germany.

Dr Rosie Peppin Vaughan conducts interdisciplinary research around the topics of gender, education, and global governance. Her most recent work has been on the post-2015 development agenda, and transnational advocacy on girls’ and women’s education. Her theoretical work includes using the capability approach and the concept of human development to think about gender, educational equality and social justice.

She has recently completed consultancies for a number of international organisations including Plan International, British Council, the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, and the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition.


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