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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

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Limitations and Frontiers: Concepts, Measures, and Applications of the Capability Approach

August 6, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm UTC+1

Webinar with Sabina Alkire

6th August 2021, Friday

10:30 – 12.00 BST (GMT +1) (11.30 – 13.00 CEST/GMT +2)

Since HDCA was launched in 2004, applications of well-being and multidimensional poverty have gained ground, including applications drawing from the Capability Approach. It has been a period of intense reflection, experimentation, hope, competition, and learning. In parallel, the data environment and availability of qualitative, quantitative, and participatory data has bounded forward, as has policy interest in topics central to the capability approach. This has truly been a fertile period.

This talk will review a few advances, then focus on and call for creative investment in some high priority gaps, such as:

  • Can poverty and well-being measures be linked, to understand a fuller set of aspects of life for poor and non-poor alike?
  • How and when must research create spaces to reflect on what people value and have reason to value?
  • Can management techniques in business be a ‘new frontier’ for work in how to advance capabilities and human development – for the working community and via the products?
  • With the data revolutions, why has it proven so difficult to obtain accurate, regularly updated data on capabilities?
  • How can the interface between data providers (singly and in groups) be created, so they can interact with their own data accurately and swiftly? Can they edit or update data? Can this and should this link to ‘how to’ resources?
  • Should diverse data sources be merged at the level of a person? Is it feasible to maintain impeccable privacy controls?

Naturally this talk draws on a number of papers prepared with dedicated co-authors.

Speaker: Sabina Alkire directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a research centre within the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Sabina works on a new approach to measuring poverty and well-being that looks at clustered disadvantages. This multidimensional approach to measurement can consider overlapping challenges in health, education, nutrition, standard of living, work, and other valuable aspects of life. With her colleague James Foster (OPHI Research Associate and Professor of Economics at George Washington University) Sabina devised a counting-based method for measuring multidimensional poverty that has been widely used by governments, international agencies, and other actors. She has participated in and learned from initiatives seeking to take a broader approach to well-being, such as the French Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (instigated by President Sarkozy); the United Nations Human Development Programme Human Development Report Office; the European Commission; and the UK’s Department for International Development. Sabina has published numerous articles and chapters on the capability approach, human development, poverty, and well-being. Profile link:



August 6, 2021
10:30 am - 12:00 pm UTC+1
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