The Application of Sen’s Capability Approach to the Study of Social and Economic Phenomena
Alessio Maria Musella, Lucrezia Alberti Corseri

The Capability Approach is much discussed in the literature, making Sen one of the most influential philosophers and economists of our time. In this paper, starting from Sen’s question “Equality of what?”, we analyse how the economist offers new insights into the vision of equality, poverty and freedom. We hypothesise that he maintains that people who are identical in terms of physical characteristics and potentialities might achieve different levels of well-being depending on the family environment in which they grew up, the institutional context in which they live, the opportunities that the economic system reserves them or the cultural norms or social rules they have. Through a qualitative approach to the existing literature, our research will explain how, in addition to Sen’s thought, poverty is contingent on people’s different characteristics and the environment in which they live. As a result, this paper will demonstrate how in economics, poverty should thus be considered a vicious circle characterised by the lack of freedom (represented by fundamental capabilities).

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