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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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External Capabilities *

External Capabilities *

Chapter:
(p.362) Chapter 19 External Capabilities*
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen
Author(s):

James E. Foster (Contributor Webpage)

Christopher Handy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.003.0020

The capability approach of Amartya Sen evaluates well-being in terms of an individual's achievements and abilities to function. The traditional view of capabilities is that they are discernable as part of an individual's own set of characteristics, or as part of a package of socially provided services. This chapter argues that individuals also have access to a broad array of capabilities through their family, friends, and other persons with whom they have relationships. It introduces the concept of ‘external capabilities’, which are defined as those abilities to function that are conferred by direct connection or relationship with another person. Several examples are provided, and the chapter distinguishes between this new concept presented here and other existing notions of capabilities originating in groups. The perspective of external capabilities can be especially valuable in formulating development policies or understanding how existing policies work. As an illustration of this, the chapter shows how information and communications technologies (ICT) can enhance development by augmenting external capabilities.

Keywords:   capabilities, well-being, freedom, development, social networks, ICT

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