Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom

1. Sen puts forward the argument that Freedom is central to the process of Development for two distinct reasons:

i) The evaluative reason: assessment of progress has to be done primarily in terms of whether freedoms that people have are enhanced

ii) The effectiveness reason: achievement of development is thoroughly dependent on the free agency of people

[Introduction, page 4]

Explain what he means in your own words.

2. In the section Income and Mortality [Chapter 1, page 21-24] he puts forward evidence on life expectancy of different groups in different regions, arguing that life-expectancy is higher amongst Chinese and Indians (in a sub-regions of India) than amongst African Americans. Yet in the section on Markets and Freedoms [Chapter 1, page 25-30], he presents evidence that slaves lived longer than their European counterparts in France in Holland. Does the fact that slaves lived longer than some free people contradict his central thesis? How does one resolve this apparent contradiction?

3. With reference to the argument provided in the Section Public Provisioning, Low Income and Relative Costs [Chapter 2, page 46-49] comment on the relative merits of what Sen describes as support-led vs growth mediated processes. How do you see their relative merits. You may draw on examples from elsewhere to support your argument.

4. Comment on Sen’s views on development and progress – what do you think is his intellectual contribution, and do you see it as valuable? Why or why not? You may refer to the video resources provided or other resources to make your arguments.

Video Resources:
*Amartya Sen Television Interview 1999:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6A7k6peWRM

*Sen on Equality and Growth:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9gQY0tIn4o

*The impact of Sen’s ideas on Development Practice:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hkTZlPBFLM

Please note that the chapters of the book are uploaded in additional materials.

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