Romero, Catalina (2009). "Studying values and the capability approach" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.
I would like to present a paper on how to study values from the perspective of the capability approach taking as a basis a comparison of Ronald Inglehart’s study of value change in different societies around the World, and Amartya Sen’s category of “what people value” or “evaluation”. I will do this, using as a reference the study of values with the WVS questionnaire. Sabine Alkire has introduced the comparison between Inglehart and Finnis finding a parallel between some of the categories each author use, such as materialism and postmaterialism, family and faith, on Inglehart’s side, and life/health/security and self-expression, practical reason, and meaningful work, sociability and harmony with the divine, on Finnis’s side. I have found that many authors are using Inglehart’s WVS data, without engaging in a more theoretical discussion on the adequacy of shifting from one framework to the other, and therefore without paying attention to the questions of conceptual validity and the limits of the variables used in the WVS to understand what people value following Sen’s discussion of Values and the process of valuation (Development as Freedom, pp 30-31). I would like to compare both authors paying attention to the different meanings they attach to the concept of values, coming from the theoretical perspective of each one, and to the disciplinary differences coming from economics, political science and sociology.