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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2Society, Institutions, and Development$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.001.0001

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Engaging With Sen on Gender Relations

Engaging With Sen on Gender Relations

Cooperative Conflicts, False Perceptions And Relative Capabilities

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter 9 Engaging With Sen on Gender Relations
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2
Author(s):

Bina Agarwal

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.003.0010

This chapter engages with three aspects of Amartya Sen's writings, applying, contesting, or extending his ideas to throw light on intra-family gender relations. First, it applies his conceptualization of family relations as relations of both cooperation and conflict, and his entitlement approach, to explain why families might breakup during famines, when the wife's fall-back position collapses while that of the husband is still partly intact. Second, it contests his claim that women in traditional societies suffer from false perceptions about their self-interest, and so become complicit in perpetuating their unequal position. It can be shown that the same behaviour could arise from women's lack of options. Third, the chapter demonstrates the importance of taking into account women's relative capabilities (and not just absolute capabilities) in determining their well-being outcomes, and uses the example of domestic violence to identify empirically perverse capability effects. It also highlights the critical role of women's property status in determining their economic and social well-being.

Keywords:   Amartya Sen, cooperative-conflict, famine, false perceptions, domestic violence, relative capabilities, women's property status

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