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Toward a 'Capability' Analytical Model of Public Policy? Lessons from Academic Guidance Issues

Abstract : Often designated the Capability Approach, the analytical framework we present here emphasises the effective capability of individuals to accomplish their projects and the ways in which public action enables this real capability. To calibrate public action in terms of individual capability, the economist Amartya Sen has devised a system based on the distinction between “functioning”, which are what individuals effectively achieve and “capabilities”, which depend on real freedom in individual behaviour. To incorporate the role of politics more directly, a second distinction is made between the resources and capabilities of individuals. Resources consist of the goods and services which people have at their disposal, whether they are distributed through the political, economic, or social system. Nonetheless, as everyone knows, equal resources correspond to individual capabilities that are completely unequal. To measure this degree of inequality, Sen proposes the “conversion factor” which consists of the actual ability of a person to transform his resources into individual capabilities. The Capability Approach provides an analytical framework to asses and explain a huge part of public policies (in)efficiency within policy subsystems. Without the adequate conversion factors, public policies risk two pitfalls: offering freedom that is only formal; and requiring “compliant” behaviour without an equitable distribution of the ability to comply. In this case, allocated resources remain untapped and hence useless. To illustrate the relevance of this model and demonstrate the generic dimension of this approach, we give a series of examples based on academic guidance issues.
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Contributor : Armelle Jézéquel <>
Submitted on : Monday, August 30, 2010 - 9:11:00 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 2:42:03 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00512331, version 1


Thierry Berthet, Stéphanie Dechezelles, Rodolphe Gouin, Véronique Simon. Toward a 'Capability' Analytical Model of Public Policy? Lessons from Academic Guidance Issues. 9e Congrès : Asociación Española de Ciencia Política : "Repensar la democracia: inclusion y diversidad", Atelier 6 "Políticas públicas" : 6.1 : "Modelos, enfoques y perspectivas analíticas actuales en el análisis de políticas públicas", Sep 2009, Malaga, Spain. ⟨halshs-00512331⟩



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