Locating Women in a Matrix
by Bina Agarwal , , pp.,
October 2006, volume 30, No 10

The book examines critically Sen’s contribution to some fundamental issues of human welfare from a gender perspective. Sen, has displayed feminist sensibilities, rare among economists. His ideas on notions such as justice, freedom, social choice, agency, ‘functionings’, and capability as a set of philosophical categories have not only enriched our understanding but has given us a whole new vocabulary and evaluative tools for judging human development, values that should underpin our goals. Firstly, he shifted the focus from the conventional approach of aggregating individual preferences, which are subjective evaluations ignoring the situations in which people live, to interactive processes that determine outcomes—the extent of participation of agents in decision making. Secondly, departing from the exclusive focus on wealth and utilities, he has made us recognize that ultimately what matters is what kind of life we can lead, what enables us to pursue the goals we value.

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