Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-Examined - cover image


Ingrid Robeyns

Published On





  • English

Print Length

266 pages (x + 256)


Paperback156 x 14 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.56" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 16 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.63" x 9.21")


Paperback840g (29.63oz)
Hardback1221g (43.07oz)



OCLC Number





  • KCR
  • KCP
  • JHBC
  • JHBL
  • HPS


  • SOC045000
  • SOC053000
  • SOC050000
  • POL024000
  • POL029000


  • HD75
  • R635


  • Capability Approach
  • wellbeing
  • freedom
  • social justice
  • Social Science
  • economic disparity
  • public policy

Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice

The Capability Approach Re-Examined

Notions such as wellbeing, freedom, and social justice are integral to evaluating social progress and developing policies. One increasingly influential way to think about these concepts is the capability approach, a theoretical framework which was pioneered by the philosopher and economist Amartya Sen in the 1980s.

In this book Ingrid Robeyns orientates readers new to the capability approach through offering an explanation of this framework. Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice also endeavors to resolve historical disputes in the literature and thus will be equally engaging to those familiar with the field. The author offers a novel and illuminating account of how the capability approach can be understood in a variety of academic disciplines and fields of application. Special attention is paid to clarifying misunderstandings that have been caused by different disciplinary assumptions and the interpretive consequences they have for our consideration of the capability approach.

Robeyns argues that respecting the distinction between the general capability approach, and more specific capability theories or applications, helps to clear up confusion and misinterpretation. In addition, the author presents detailed analyses of well-known objections to the capability approach, and also discusses how it relates to other schools of analysis such as theories of justice, human rights, basic needs, and the human development approach.

Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice offers an original and comprehensive account of the field. The book will appeal to scholars of the capability approach as well as new readers looking for an interdisciplinary introduction.


This book is a magnificent achievement: it reaches across philosophy and the social sciences, across research, policy and practice in the global North and South, and across many decades of debate and discussion within and outside the capability approach. It does so in a way which is readable and clear, and it manages to avoid on the one hand being too polemical, and on the other hand being too superficial. Ingrid Robeyns is uniquely well-placed to write such a book, being herself a well-established inter-disciplinary scholar whose work has contributed enormously to the development of the capability approach over the years. It has been a frustration for many of us that no comprehensive textbook on the capability approach yet exists, and this will fill that gap admirably.

Dr Tania Burchardt

Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and Associate Professor in the Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics


The book is essential reading for social justice and wellbeing scholars and practitioners. Robeyns importantly points to the fact that many of the conceptual controversies of the past two decades have been largely resolved, and that the Capability Approach can now be used, inter alia, to study ways in which the welfare state, under pressure at present, can best be arranged.

New Agenda, 2019.


1. Introduction

(pp. 7–20)
  • Ingrid Robeyns
  • Ingrid Robeyns

3. Clarification

(pp. 89–168)
  • Ingrid Robeyns
  • Ingrid Robeyns


Ingrid Robeyns

Chair in Ethics of Institutions at the Ethics Institute at Utrecht University