Basic Needs and Basic Capabilities

Sabina Alkire

in Valuing Freedoms

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199245796
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600838 | DOI:
 Basic Needs and Basic Capabilities

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Each of the four chapters of Part I of the book synthesizes one aspect that must be specified in the operationalization of the capability approach, then proposes a framework for doing so. This fifth chapter returns to the issues of whether basic capabilities pertaining to absolute poverty may be identified from without, and whether in poverty reduction activities it is necessary to focus on ‘achieving functionings’ rather than ‘expanding capabilities’. It applies the account of values and decision‐making processes built up in the previous three chapters to the issue of poverty with which economic development is concerned, and asks what, in practice, it means to address absolute poverty within the capability approach—whether and if ‘basic capabilities’ can be specified. It discusses the relativity of these basic capabilities, and the operational implications of focusing on capability rather than functionings, and finally proposes a schematic four‐part operational definition for pursuing capabilities. The focus is on Amartya Sen's work.

Keywords: absolute poverty; achieving functionings; Amartya Sen; basic capabilities; capability approach; economic development; expanding capabilities; operationalization; poverty; poverty reduction

Chapter.  21712 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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