Saturday, March 19, 2011

Human Worth: A Novel Concept

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my graduate work was engaging with the capability approach, a relatively new theory on well-being. The approach grew out of the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum and engages with both issues of international development as well as governance more generally. Most books and articles on the capability approach have been directed to an audience with some familiarity with international development and/or political and social theory. However, Martha Nussbaum's new book, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, does an excellent job providing an engaging introduction to the capability approach.

Having read much of the detailed work on the capability approach, I was afraid Nussbaum's book would simply rehash ideas from previous works. Happily, I was quite wrong. The book lays out the capability approach in a very clear and concise way. It also provides a good discussion of the growing diversity within the capability approach itself as more people, particularly those with different backgrounds, engage with it and take the capability approach in different theoretical and empirical directions.

Despite it being early in the year, I can certainly say that Creating Capabilities will have a spot on my top ten books of 2011.

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