Capability and Group Inequalities:Revealing the latent structure

Manuel Roche, Jose (2009). "Capability and Group Inequalities:Revealing the latent structure " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

There has been growing interest in issues of multidimensionality, diversity in preference, agency, and freedom of choice in the recent literature on poverty and inequality. The capability approach and seminal works of Amartya Sen (1999 1992 1985a 1980) and Martha Nussbaum (Nussbaum 2000 2006) have particularly contributed to this debate. They propose that capability rather than commodities or utilities should be the space for the evaluation of wellbeing and social justice. Some capability scholars argue that the approach has not paid enough attention to groups, and debate about whether an individualistic perspective is still dominant (Alkire 2008; Burchardt and Vizard 2007; Deneulin 2006; Stewart and Deneulin 2002; Stewart 2003 2005; Majumdar and Subramanian 2001; Robeyns 2005). These authors call attention to the importance that groups may have in individual well-being, in shaping individual preferences, and in generating social mobilization and collective action. This debate has important similarities with the sociological academic tradition on social stratification (cf. Grusky and Kanbur 2006; Grusky and Weenden 2007). In this paper I shall argue that the sociological academic tradition in social stratification could complement the capability approach theoretically and methodologically in order to enhance the study of group inequalities. I will argue that the study of group inequalities implies not only dealing with the complexity of multidimensional space and the measurement of capabilities, but also dealing with its multiple social determinants.
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