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The contribution of the market mechanism to economic growth important but this comes only after the direct significance of the freedom to interchange — words, goods, gifts — has been acknowledged. As it happens, the rejection of the freedom to participate in the labour market is one of the ways of keeping people in bondage and captivity and the battle against the unfreedom of bound labour is important in many countries today. The freedom to enter markets can itself be a significant contribution to development, quite aside from whatever the market mechanism may or may not do to promote economic growth or industrialization.

The crucial challenges of development in many countries today include the need for the freeing of labour from explicit or implicit bondage that denies access to the open labour market. Similarly, the denial of access to product markets is often among the deprivations from which many small cultivators and struggling producers suffer under traditional arrangements and restrictions.

Review: Development as Freedom | Cultural Survival

The freedom to participate in economic interchange has a basic role in social living. We must examine the persistence of deprivations among segments of the community that happen to remain excluded from the benefits of the market oriented society, and the general judgements, including criticisms, that people may have of lifestyles and values associated with the culture of markets. It is hard to think that any process of substantial development can do without very extensive use of markets, but that does not preclude the role of social support, public regulation, or statecraft when they can enrich — rather than impoverish — human lives.

Economic unfreedom, in the form of extreme poverty, can make a person a helpless prey in the violation of other kinds of freedom. Economic unfreedom can breed social unfreedom, just as social or political unfreedom can also foster economic unfreedom. A broad approach of this kind permits simultaneous appreciation of the vital roles, in the process of development, of many different institutions, including markets and market related organizations, governments and local authorities, political parties and other civic institutions, educational arrangements and opportunities of open dialogue and debate including the role of the media and other means of communication.

Such an approach also allows us to acknowledge the role of social values and prevailing mores, which can influence the freedoms that people enjoy and have reason to treasure. Shared norms can influence social features such as gender equity, the nature of child care, family size and fertility patterns, the treatment of the environment and many other arrangements and outcomes. Prevailing values and social mores also affect the presence or absence of corruption, and the role of trust in economic or social or political relationships.

The exercise of freedom is mediated by values, but the values in turn are influenced by public discussion and social interactions, which are themselves influenced by participatory freedoms.

Preface and Intro: Amartya Sen - Development as Freedom

Each of these connections deserves careful scrutiny. Each of these distinct types of rights and opportunities helps to advance the general capability of a person. They may also serve to complement each other. We must explore and work towards the promotion of overall freedoms of people to lead the kind of lives they have reason to value. The instrumental freedoms link with each other and with the ends of enhancement of human freedom in general.

Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy

Empirical linkages tie the distinct types of freedom together, strengthening their joint importance. These connections are central to a fuller understanding of the instrumental role of freedom. Freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means:.

With adequate social opportunities, individuals can effectively shape their own destiny and help each other. The comparative merits of the two different positions — relying respectively on reasoned freedom and economic compulsion — will be investigated later on in this study. There is indeed a strong rationale for recognizing the positive role of free and sustainable agency — and even of constructive impatience. In analyzing social justice, there is a strong case for judging individual advantage in terms of the capabilities that a person has — that is, the substantive freedoms he or she enjoys to lead he kind of life he or she has reason to value.

In this perspective, poverty must be seen as the deprivation of basic capabilities rather than merely as lowness of incomes, which is standard criterion of poverty. Indeed, inadequate income is a strong predisposing condition for an impoverished life. Poverty can be sensibly identified in terms of capability deprivation; the approach concentrates on deprivations that are intrinsically important unlike low income, which is only instrumentally significant.

There are influences on capability deprivation — and thus on real poverty — other than lowness of income; income is not the only instrument in generating capabilities.

The instrumental relation between low income and low capability is variable between different communities and even between different families and different individuals the impact of income on capabilities is contingent and conditional. The large contribution of such handicaps to the prevalence of income poverty in Britain was sharply brought out by A.

Development as Freedom

In his later works, Atkinson has further pursued the connection between income handicap and deprivations of other kinds. Handicaps also make it harder to convert income into capability, since an older, or more disabled, or more seriously ill person may need more income for assistance, for prosthesis, for treatment to achieve the same functionings even when that achievement is at all possible. Palmer, T. Smeeding and B. C: Urban Institute Press, This is a substantial issue in many contexts; sex bias does appear to be a major factor in the family allocation in many countries in Asia and North Africa.

Relative deprivation in terms of incomes can yield absolute deprivation in terms of capabilities.

Development as Freedom

In a generally opulent country, more income is needed to buy enough commodities to achieve the same social functioning. This consideration — pioneeringly outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations — is quite central to sociological understandings of poverty, and it has been analyzed by W. Runciman, Peter Townsend and others W.

The need to take part in the life of a community may induce demands for modern equipment televisions, videocassette recorders, automobiles and so on in a country where such facilities are more or less universal unlike what would be needed in less affluent countries , and this imposes a strain on a relatively poor person in a rich country even when that person is at a much higher level of income compared with people in less opulent countries.

Indeed, the paradoxical phenomenon of hunger in rich countries — even in the United States — has something to do with the competing demands of these expenses.


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What the capability perspective does in poverty analysis is to enhance the understanding of the nature and causes of poverty and deprivation by shifting primary attention away from means and one particular means that is usually given exclusive attention, viz. The deprivations are seen at a more fundamental level — one closer to the informational demands of social justice.

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Sen favours free markets compared with controlled ones. Free markets imply freedom to transact, freedom for the buyer to buy or the seller to sell, and — importantly— freedom to choose work. They argue that in some plantations average wage of slaves were higher than wages of unskilled labour in the most advanced countries.

Also, some slaves were having better nutrition on plantations than the free agriculture workers in some parts of Europe. However, the — better paid and better fed— slaves ran away from the plantations at every given possibility. It was because they lacked freedom to choose what they wanted to do. Freedom to choose work is important. And it cannot be compensated by better income and better health care. Sen points out at that those who favour free markets do it because of efficiency of free markets when compared with centralized control economies.

Restricting free markets is, Sen believes, restriction of freedom itself. Within a democracy— compared to other political systems— citizens are free to choose. They can actively participate in the procedure of governance and, furthermore, decide what norms are acceptable and what are not. India is a prime example where, despite poverty, no famine has occurred. The reason for this contrast is political freedoms.

Development as Freedom in a Digital Age : Experiences from the Rural Poor in Bolivia

When people are free to choose their political leaders and are free to actively participate then big social mishaps will not be ignored by the citizens. In a democracy politicians have an incentive to to perform, deliver over politicized issues. Natural disasters and man made disasters are very politicized issues in developed as well as developing countries. When a country faces calamities, failing to respond is a political failure for the politicians. Therefore, a famine will not happen in a functioning democracy because people in politics will do everything to prevent it. It is not the benevolence of the politicians, paraphrasing Adam Smith, but self interest that makes politicians perform in a democracy.

Development as Freedom is interesting, informative and intuitive.