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One - Human development, capabilities and the ethics of policy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 April 2022

Hans-Uwe Otto
Affiliation:
Universität Bielefeld, Germany
Melanie Walker
Affiliation:
University of the Free State - South Campus, South Africa
Holger Ziegler
Affiliation:
Universität Bielefeld, Germany
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Summary

How can we work to overcome unjust societies and achieve a better distribution of opportunities to flourish? How is human development best fostered? How can human development be revitalised in betteroff countries where the role of social welfare is under scrutiny? These are some questions this volume aims to answer by analysing policies and conceptualising coherent and systematic strategies at the local, national and international level, and what seems possible in real-world contexts. We consider not just policy but also human development and capabilities expansion – ‘picking out valuable ways of being and doing’ – as the ‘final ends’ of responsible policy and policymaking and worth seeking for its own sake (Richardson, 2015, p 171). This approach is grounded in development ethics and an ethical approach to policymaking that seeks multidimensional measures of human progress of current and future persons. We identify and critically analyse policy interventions driven or influenced by the human development approach and examine how the approach has been operationalised and put into practice, as well as how far its implementation has been successful in contributing to human flourishing and increasing the opportunities available to individuals and groups to live the lives they have reason to value. The book therefore also discusses the discrepancies and obstacles that actual policies present to what a capability approach could mean in social policy practice. To this end, we hope to stimulate debate on overcoming obstacles in existing social policy scenarios of different kinds.

Our project serves as a response to calls to roll back or restrict social welfare and a call to dialogue, given the urgent need to come up with alternative social policies with a strong commitment to combat disadvantage, promoting individual and social development through human flourishing. The book makes a clear distinction between ordinary development programmes and those that seek to go further (even if imperfectly) by enhancing human security and augmenting individuals’ and groups’ positive freedoms and promoting democratic communities of mutual support and reciprocity. However, it also considers the nature of development interventions that follow human development principles and identifies shortcomings in existing programmes. Avoiding any stereotypical view of good social policy practices, the volume highlights challenging examples from diverse national and cultural contexts.

Type
Chapter
Information
Capability-Promoting Policies
Enhancing Individual and Social Development
, pp. 3 - 20
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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