Sabina Alkire shows how Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen's capability approach can be coherently---and practically---put to work in poverty reduction activities. Sen argues that economic development should expand 'valuable' freedoms. Alkire probes how we identify what is valuable. Foundational issues are addressed critically---dimensions of development, practical reason, culture, basic needs---drawing on Thomist authors who give central place to authentic participation. A participatory procedure for identifying capability change is then developed. Case studies of three Oxfam activities in Pakistan---goat-rearing, female literacy, and rose cultivation---illustrate this novel approach.
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Sabina Alkire coordinates a research and learning programme on Culture and Poverty in the Poverty Group at the World Bank. She is also a deacon in the Anglican Church.
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