Freedom of choice and poverty alleviation

Lessmann, Ortrud (2009). "Freedom of choice and poverty alleviation" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

The Capability Approach (henceforth CA) views poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon and emphasises that restricted freedom of choice is a crucial aspect of poverty. If poverty is seen in this way there are two ways to improve the situation of the poor: by broadening the set of opportunities open to them or by strengthening their ability to choose. The paper concentrates on the latter. The paper summarizes which circumstances are seen in the CA as suitable for strengthening freedom of choice, namely the market, democracy and participatory projects. Two shortcomings of the CA are identified by this: first, the social embedding and secondly, the process aspect of agency. These two shortcomings are intertwined as is shown in a model for social work stemming from a different approach which may serve as a point of reference.
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