Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.567054
Title: A capabilities approach to local and regional development in Europe : evidence from Alentejo, Portugal
Author: Edwards, John Huw
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
This thesis examines the potential of the Capabilities Approach for the study and practice of local and regional development in Europe. It is based on the work of Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winning economist who has applied the approach most notably in the field of Development Studies. Sen argues that expanding people’s freedom to live a life they value is the principal means and end of development, a conceptual position that helps to fill a void in the current literature in Regional Studies. His focus on the expansion of freedoms (capabilities) is extended to the context of local and regional development: It is shown that Sen’s five “instrumental freedoms” can be used as a method for development and his “intrinsic freedoms” form a better framework to evaluate progress than traditional indicators. The goal of regional development should be to allow as many people to live a life they value in the largest number of places, not merely a rise in individual utility. Following Sen’s call for vigorous enquiry into how capabilities are experienced, the thesis draws on empirical fieldwork from the Portuguese region of Alentejo. It explores how geography affects capabilities and identifies a number of social, physical and scalar factors. Moreover it shows how these factors interact in particular places. Together with the finding that collective capabilities can largely determine individual capabilities, the notion of ‘net regional capabilities’ is elaborated. Yet, this is a sum of capabilities and a second crucial factor is how they are distributed within a region. Indeed, Alentejo demonstrates a strong heterogeneity in relation to the distribution of capabilities. As Evans suggests, Sen’s work is promising because of what it fails to answer as much as the groundbreaking framework that it develops and in this respect the thesis highlights several missing aspects to the Capabilities Approach. Based on the observation that individual capabilities often depend on collective action, it agrees with Corbridge that Sen underestimates the role of power and inevitability of conflict. It also finds that gains in individual capabilities do not always increase the overall sum; in other words there are trade-offs that have to be addressed in development dilemmas. The main contributions of this thesis are thus to adapt the Capabilities Approach to Regional Studies and add to Sen’s work through the consideration of geography as an important influence on capabilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (Award number: PTA-031-2006-00277)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.567054  DOI: Not available
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