Importance Of Capacity Deprivation

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During the last 25 years, the capability approach moved gradually from an idea initially developed by the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen to a broad interdisciplinary framework. This essay will define capability deprivation and address whether it is only relevant for use in either “developing” or “developed” countries. The first section will explain the capacity approach and the distinction between poverty and deprivation. Its core claim is that the focus should be on people’s functionings (being and doing) and capabilities (effective opportunities to achieve those functionings). The second section will argue that capacity deprivation is relevant for use in both “developing” and “developed” countries by providing a multidimensional focus…show more content…
Indeed, countries that do well in terms of GNP can perform poorly and lack essential capabilities. Nussbaum (2000) uses the example of South Africa under apartheid or Singapore’s constraining political system. Furthermore, countries with a similar GNP per capita can exhibit significant variations when it comes to their Human Development Index (HDI). Indeed, while Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and Honduras have a similar GNP per capita, the female literacy rate is 23% in Pakistan, 60% in Zimbabwe, and 71.6% in Honduras (Nussbaum, 2000:28). While people’s incomes are important, they can be considered as instrumental because of what they allow a person to “do or be” (Sen, 1999). Indeed, not all capacity deprivations are due to a lack of resources and can be considered as a case of poverty (Lister, 2004). For instance, the ability to participate in the life of society is not always due to a lack of resources; other constraints can impede participation such as discrimination or disability. Furthermore, adopting a capability perspective can allow to account for inter-country and inter-community differences showing how people in rich nations can live in poverty and be capability deprived, compared to poorer countries. As outlined by Sen in “Development as Freedom”, US African-American men have less chances of “reaching advanced ages than do people in the immensely poorer economies of China or the Indian state of Kerala” (as cited in Hick and Burchardt,

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