Development as Freedom
Amartya Sen was the winner of the 1998 Nobel prize for economics. His book argues that economic development entails a set of linked freedoms:
- political freedoms and transparency in relations between people
- freedom of opportunity, including freedom to access credit; and
- economic protection from abject poverty, including through income supplements and unemployment relief.
A state of poverty will generally be characterised by lack of at least one freedom (Sen uses the term unfreedom for lack of freedom), including a de facto lack of political rights and choice, vulnerability to coercive relations, and exclusion from economic choices and protections. From this, Sen concludes that real development cannot be reduced to simply increasing basic incomes, nor to rising average per capita incomes. Rather, it requires a package of overlapping mechanisms that progressively enable the exercise of a growing range of freedoms.
Sen views free markets as an essential method of achieving freedom. His work has been criticized by those who claim that capitalism — and especially neo-liberal capitalism — reinforce unfreedoms. This criticism parallels the basic anarchist position of Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, that individual freedom is incompatible with free markets.
- E.g. Richard Sandbrook, 2000, "Globalization and the Limits of Neoliberal Development Doctrine," Third World Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 6, pp. 1071-1080
- See Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, 2009, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (Counter-Power vol. 1), AK Press, pp. 48-52.
- Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999.
- Tungodden, Bertil. A Balanced View of Development as Freedom. Chr. Michelsen Institute Working Papers Series. Available on-line at http://www.cmi.no/publications/file/?953=a-balanced-view-of-development-as-freedom
- Richard Sandbrook, 2000, "Globalization and the Limits of Neoliberal Development Doctrine," Third World Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 6, pp. 1071-1080.
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