Students on a theater trip in Iceland.

Philosophy Program

Poverty as Capability Deprivation

Room C-505, 6 rue du Colonel Combes
Monday, March 18, 2024 - 13:45 to 15:05

Amartya Sen has argued that poverty is much more than a lack of income: it means that a person falls short of securing a basic level of capabilities. His main justification for this claim is that we need to look at what is important in a person’s life (what a person’s actual functionings are, and what alternative outcomes could be achieved), rather than just at what a person has. In this article, I argue that, although Sen’s conceptualisation expands our understanding of poverty, it can limit us to a micro-level analysis. Conceptualising poverty in a diverse and unequal society rather requires a broader perspective; one capable of including an explicitly relational approach, group-based analysis, and a socio-structures lens. Otherwise, we miss the fundamental role played by the systematic oppression in the context of poverty. In developing these ideas, my aim is to present a holistic picture of poverty as capability deprivation.

Katarina Pitasse Fragoso is a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Chair of International Political Theory and Philosophy at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her research in normative theory primarily focuses on relational inequalities and poverty. Currently, her research interests lie in applied philosophy, particularly public policy and participatory local governance, as well as contemporary political philosophy, specifically contributions to segregation and gentrification.