The Capability Approach and the Politics of a Social Conception of Wellbeing

Severine Deneulin, James A McGregor

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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The paper discusses the potential and pitfalls of Sen's capability approach. It discusses areas where the capability approach has made a significant contribution to the social sciences. However, the paper argues that the approach fails to thke into account the social construction of meaning. It is these social meanings which gives us a basis from which we know what we value and judge how satisfied we feel about what we are able to achieve. From this viewpoint a person's state of wellbeing (or illbeing) is socially and psychologically co-constituted in specific social and cultural contexts. This entrails that the reality of trade-offs between competing conceptions of wellbeing has to be confronted, and that therefore such social conception of wellbeing is also profoundly political.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBath
PublisherWellbeing in Developing Countries/University of Bath
Publication statusUnpublished - Feb 2009

Publication series

NameWellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) Working Papers
No.WeD Working Paper 09/43

Bibliographical note

ID number: WeD Working Paper 09/43


  • capability approach
  • reasoning
  • social wellbeing
  • conflict


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