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Title: Capable subjects : power and politics in Eastern India
Author: Roy, Indrajit
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The principal aim of this thesis is to elaborate a politicized reading of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach. It explores how capabilities are augmented through the forging of contentious political subjectivities. In it, I build on the criticism that Sen's framework can be more sensitive to questions of power and politics. Against some of his critics, however, I argue that its 'politicization' must focus analytical attention on politics as the struggle to produce subjects rather than limiting its understanding to negotiations over authority, resources and allocations. I draw on quantitative and qualitative analysis of ethnographic data from rural eastern India to substantiate my argument. The first two chapters outline the contours of the debates and introduce the social, economic and political life of the study localities. Each of the four subsequent chapters elucidates the manner in which the contentious processes through which political subjectivity are forged augments capabilities. In Chapter 3 I advance the case that any discussion on capabilities needs to analyze how subjects interrogate the relations of domination and subordination which they have hitherto been compelled to inhabit. Based on an analysis of the contentions spawned by the Indian Government's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, I point to how the notion of cooperative conflict is helpful in understanding these processes. In Chapter 4, I draw attention to the analytic importance that needs to be accorded to 'voice' in order to understand how subjects contest and reconstitute these relationships: I base my analysis on the claims made on elected representatives by different groups of people in respect to 'poverty cards'. This emphasis leads in Chapter 5 to an investigation of the ways in which agonistic exchanges in public spaces augments capabilities: this I do through an examination of two specific disputes involving a variety of local actors. I develop these insights further in Chapter 6 to show how our understanding of the processes through which capabilities may be enhanced gains analytically from an analysis of the manner in which subjects construct their identities. Chapter 7 concludes.
Supervisor: Gooptu, Nandini ; Alkire, Sabina Sponsor: Oxford Department of International Development
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Poverty ; Social choice ; Power (Social sciences) ; Welfare economics ; Rural poor--India ; India--Social conditions--1947- ; India--Rural conditions ; India--Politics and government--1947- ; India--Economic conditions--1947-