The an ambiguous term and structure, which leads

Topic: EducationTeacher
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Last updated: September 3, 2019

The Capability Approach, developed by Amartya Sen in the 1980s, is a structure which measures the significance of an individual’s’ ability to pursue and achieve the life they want and value. It is an ethical evaluation system that is used extensively to measure human development by many organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme(Wells).

The Capability Approach dives further into the development of people than purely economic and quantitative data, but it includes consideration for the type of opportunity and values  an individual may have. There are two main concepts of the Capability Approach: functionings and capability. Functionings refers to the states of “being and doing”(Wells). Examples of such are being well-fed, educated, and sheltered.

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It is not to be mistaken however, for the commodities required to achieve these states of being, e.g. it is different to be well-fed than to possess a plethora of food. Capabilities are the set of valuable functionings that a person has effective access to(cite). It is important to note that the functionings a person has access to may or may not be effective for them.

For example, a car may bring utility to a person in good physiological condition, but those lacking the physiological abilities needed to drive the car cannot utilize it.Basic Capability is an ambiguous term and structure, which leads to narrow results that only assesses deprivation. The moral of basic capability is to define and evaluate urgent moral and political priorities. In order to evaluate and measure an individual’s quality of life, in terms of basic capabilities, the foundational criteria are education, health, nutrition and shelter. When considering these capabilities one must question the freedom a person has to choose an option of exceptional quality.

A middle-class American will not have the same freedom and judgement as a student living in poverty. Within this evaluation we must take into account the capability this person may have in terms of the quality of education they received. A Basic Capability refers to the real opportunities given to avoid poverty and the allow an individual to escape the threshold of well-being. The most effective and efficient way to monitor basic capability, is through the capabilities approach. The approach umbrellas into four categories that examines the underlying determinants of relationships between people and commodities. The first classification is the individual physiology which encapsulates illness, disability, age and gender. This approach breaks down and assists individuals with needed materials or support in order to complete the same functions others may not be affected by.

An example of this is providing prosthetics for a disability or additional food for individuals with intestinal parasites. Local Environment Diversities takes into account the climate, epidemady, and pollution. Assistance is provided to the affected with cost efficient heating, cooling and clothing. Differences in Relational Perspective is the social norm of the capability. “Conventions and customs determine the commodity requirements of expected standards of behaviour and consumption, so that relative income poverty in a rich community may translate into absolute poverty in the space of capability”. (Wells) The final approach is Distribution within family; which is the dispersal of responsibility within a household.

The ‘who takes care of what’, within the allocation of food and healthcare between children, adults, males, and females.. “The diagnosis of capability failures, or significant interpersonal variations in capability, directs attention to the relevant causal pathways responsible”. (Wells)

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