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Amartya Sen on Welfare State - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 218
Welfare state/Sen/Moon: Ironically, [the] (...) commitment to freedom and solidarity is subject
to a certain inner tension [within the dicsussion of the welfare state]. One way to think about this
is to see that the effort to empower individuals and to promote social inclusion also leads to new forms of marginalization and control. One major reason for this is that the goal of social inclusion cannot be achieved merely by providing people with resources, for what is ultimately required is that people be able to participate effectively in the social and political 'life of the community' (Sen, 1992(1): 5). Thus, we must be concerned not simply with citizens' command of extemal resources, but with what they can do with them, as Amartya Sen argues. He distinguishes between 'functionings' , which 'represent parts of the state of a person - in particular, the various things that he or she manages to do or be in leading a life', and a person's 'capability', which 'reflects the alternative combinations of fimctionings the person can achieve' (Sen, 1993(2): 31). Functionings can be very complex performances or states of being, or ensembles of performances and states of being, such as 'being in good health' or 'achieving self respect or being socially integrated' (1993(2): 31). >Welfare state/Welfare economics, >Welfare state/Susan Mayer.


1. Sen, Amartya (1992) Inequality Reexamined. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
2. Sen, Amartya (1993) 'Capability and well-being'. In Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, eds, The Quality of Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moon, J. Donald 2004. „The Political Theory of the Welfare State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconSen I
Amartya Sen
Collective Choice and Social Welfare: Expanded Edition London 2017

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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