Development as Freedom - and as What Else?
To what extent can Amartya Sen’s ideas on freedom, especially his conceptualization of development as freedom, enrich feminist economics? Sen’s notion of freedom (as the capability to achieve valued ends) has many attractions and provides important opportunities to analyze gender inequalities. At the same time, Sen’s recent emphasis on freedom as the dominant value in judging individual well-being and societal development also contains risks, not least for feminist analysis. We characterize the risks as an underelaboration and overextension of the concept of freedom. Drawing on Sen’s earlier work and various feminist theorists, we suggest instead a more emphatically pluralist characterization of capability, well-being, and value, highlighting the distinct and substantive aspects of freedom, as well as of values besides freedom, in the lives of women and men. We illustrate this with reference to women’s economic role as caregivers.