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We welcome readers to the Cambridge Handbook of the Capability Approach. We begin with some preliminary remarks about: (1) the state of capability research; (2) the basic concepts used in the approach; and (3) a brief explanation of the organization and structure of the Handbook.
Modern work on the ‘capability approach’ (or ‘capabilities approach’) dates from Amartya Sen’s 1979 Tanner Lecture on ‘Equality of What?’ which addressed a central question for egalitarians: what should egalitarians seek to equalize? In this context Sen suggested that ‘what is missing in all this … is some notion of “basic capabilities”: a person being able to do certain basic things’ (Sen 1982: 367).
This landmark handbook collects in a single volume the current state of cutting-edge research on the capability approach. It includes a comprehensive introduction to the approach as well as new research from leading scholars in this increasingly influential multi-disciplinary field, including the pioneers of capability research, Martha C. Nussbaum and Amartya Sen. Incorporating both approachable introductory chapters and more in-depth analysis relating to the central philosophical, conceptual and theoretical issues of capability research, this handbook also includes analytical and measurement tools, as well as policy approaches which have emerged in the recent literature. The handbook will be an invaluable resource for students approaching the capability approach for the first time as well as for researchers engaged in advanced research in a wide range of disciplines, including development studies, economics, gender studies, political science and political philosophy.
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