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We live in a world of unprecedented opulence of a kind that would have been hard even to imagine a century or two ago. There have also been remarkable changes beyond the economic sphere. The twentieth century has established democratic and participatory governance as the preeminent model of political organization. Concepts of human rights and political liberty are now very much a part of the prevailing rhetoric. People live much longer, on an average, than ever before. Also, the different regions of the globe are now more closely linked than they have ever been. This is so not only in the fields of trade, commerce and communication, but also in terms of interactive ideas and ideals.

And yet we also live in a world with remarkable deprivation, destitution and oppression. There are many new problems as well as old ones, including persistence of poverty and unfulfilled elementary needs, occurrence of famines and widespread hunger, violation of elementary political freedoms as well as of basic liberties, extensive neglect of the interests and agency of women and worsening threats to our environment and to the sustainability of our economic and social lives. Many of these deprivations can be observed, in one form or another, in rich countries as well as poor ones.

Overcoming these problems is a central part of the exercise of development. We have to recognize, it is argued here, the role of freedoms of different kinds in countering these afflictions. Indeed, individual agency is, ultimately, central to addressing these deprivations. On the other hand, the freedom of agency that we have individually is inescapably qualified and constrained by the social, political and economic opportunities that are available to us. There is a deep complementarity between individual agency and social arrangements. It is important to give simultaneous recognition to the centrality of individual freedom and to the force of social influences on the extent and reach of individual freedom. To counter the problems that we face, we have to see individual freedom as a social commitment. This is the basic approach that this work tries to explore and examine.

Expansion of freedom is viewed, in this approach, both as the primary end and as the principal means of development. Development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency. The removal of substantial unfreedoms, it is argued here, is constitutive of development. However, for a fuller understanding of the connection between development and freedom we have to go beyond that basic recognition (crucial as it is). The intrinsic importance of human freedom, in general, as the preeminent objective of development has to be distinguished from the instrumental effectiveness of freedoms of particular kinds to promote freedoms of other kinds.

The linkages between different types of freedoms are empirical and causal, rather than constitutive and compositional. For example, there is strong evidence that economic and political freedoms help to reinforce one another, rather than being hostile to one another (as they are sometimes taken to be). Similarly, social opportunities of education and health care, which may require public action, complement individual opportunities of economic and political participation and also help to foster our own initiatives in overcoming our respective deprivations. If the point of departure of the approach lies in the identification of freedom as the main object of development, the reach of the policy analysis lies in establishing the empirical linkages that make the viewpoint of freedom coherent and cogent as the guiding perspective of the process of development.

This work outlines the need for an integrated analysis of economic, social and political activities, involving a variety of institutions and many interactive agencies. It concentrates particularly on the roles and interconnections between certain crucial instrumental freedoms, including economic opportunities, political freedoms, social facilities, transparency guarantees, and protective security. Societal arrangements, involving many institutions (the state, the market, the legal system, political parties, the media, public interest groups and public discussion forums, among others) are investigated in terms of their contribution to enhancing and guaranteeing the substantive freedoms of individuals, seen as active agents of change, rather than as passive recipients of dispensed benefits.

The book is based on five lectures I gave as a Presidential Fellow at the World Bank during the fall of 1996. There was also one follow-up lecture in November 1997 dealing with the overall approach and its implications. I appreciated the opportunity and the challenge involved in this task, and I was particularly happy that this happened at the invitation of President James Wolfensohn, whose vision, skill and humanity I much admire. I was privileged to work closely with him earlier as a Trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and more recently, I have also watched with great interest the constructive impact of Wolfensohn's leadership on the Bank.

The World Bank has not invariably been my favorite organization. The power to do good goes almost always with the possibility to do the opposite, and as a professional economist, I have had occasions in the past to wonder whether the Bank could not have done very much better. These reservations and criticisms are in print, so I need not make a "confession" of harboring skeptical thoughts. All this made it particularly welcome to have the opportunity to present at the Bank my own views on development and on the making of public policy.

This book, however, is not intended primarily for people working at or for the Bank, or other international organizations. Nor is it just for policy makers and planners of national governments.
Rather, it is a general work on development and the practical reasons underlying it, aimed particularly at public discussion. I have rearranged the six lectures into twelve chapters, both for clarity and to make the written version more accessible to nonspecialist readers. Indeed, I have tried to make the discussion as nontechnical as possible, and have referred to the more formal literature--for those inclined in that direction--only in endnotes. I have also commented on recent economic experiences that occurred after my lectures were given (in 1996), such as the Asian economic crisis (which confirmed some of the worst fears I had expressed in those lectures).

In line with the importance I attach to the role of public discussion as a vehicle of social change and economic progress (as the text will make clear), this work is presented mainly for open deliberation and critical scrutiny. I have, throughout my life, avoided giving advice to the "authorities." Indeed, I have never counseled any government, preferring to place my suggestions and critiques--for what they are worth--in the public domain. Since I have been fortunate in living in three democracies with largely unimpeded media (India, Britain, and the United States), I have not had reason to complain about any lack of opportunity of public presentation. If my presentation here arouses any interest, and leads to more public discussion of these vital issues, I would have reason to feel well rewarded. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

an enjoyable, unusual and important contribution (John Mulqueen, Irish Times 02/02/01)

The connecting theme behind these essays is that development is about expanding people's ability to do things that they have a reason to value. The rationale for this is discussed with great force, clarity and consistency. (S.V. Subramanian, Progress in Development Studies 1(1), Jan 01.)

the ideas are presented in a very accessible, nontechnical language. The writing is lucid with interesting story-telling openings ... a topical and timely appeal to an audience that cuts across disciplines. (S.V. Subramanian, Progress in Development Studies 1(1), Jan 01.)

a brilliant book. Sen ranges over a vast intellectual landscape ... Many authors try this kind of tour d'horizon but few succeed as well as Amartya Sen. He is a multi-faceted scholar who has thought deeply and rigorously and has published extensively. Although Development as Freedom covers imense territory, it is subtle and nuanced and its careful scholarship is manifest at every turn. (Lars Osberg, Reviews, Compte Rendus, Autumn 2000.)

Sen has looked for ways to empower the poor ... Development as Freedom is a testament to Sen's unwavering commitment to the task ... this is economics that should be read: not merely for the elegance of its arguments or the wisdom of its judgements, but for the deep and burnished humanity that animates it. (David Goldblatt, The Independent)

Development as Freedom is a personal manifesto: a summing up; a blend of vision, close argument, reflection and reminiscence. (The Economist)

The world's poor and dispossessed could have no more articulate or insightful a champion among economists than Amartya Sen. By showing that the quality of our lives should be measured not by our wealth but by our freedom, his writings have revolutionized the theory and practice of development. The United Nations, in its own development work, has benefited immensely from the wisdom and good sense of Professor Sen's views. (Kofi A. Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations)

In this book, Amartya Sen develops elegantly, compactly, and yet broadly the concept that economic development is in its nature an increase in freedom. By historical examples, empirical evidence, and forceful and rigorous analysis, he shows how development, broadly and properly conceived, cannot be antagonistic to liberty but consists precisely in its increase. (Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economic Science)

Amartya Sen has made several key contributions to research on fundamental problems in welfare economics. By combining tools from economics and philosophy, he has restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems. (From the Royal Swedish Academy Announcement of the Award of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Science.)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 79 commentaires
140 internautes sur 151 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Individual freedom finally assigned an economic value 25 novembre 1999
Par Craig Hubley - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Human well-being is the *goal*, not a *side effect*, of social and economic life. This seems to be common sense. But few economists can subtract: no consensus exists on how to account for harms done to man or world, or to human potential discarded. How do we get beyond 'wealth' to understand 'value'?
Sen has a solution. Extending his previous works 'On Ethics and Economics' (1989) and 'Choice, Welfare, and Measurement' (1997), he offers a model of human freedom and free choice as sole measure of value. He restates 'political' and 'ethical' problems as economic ones and measures the negative impact of denying human freedom to choose. For instance, reliance on expensive systems of distribution and mediation, instead of (anarchic) peer relations.
Like Smith and Marx, Sen revisits the assumptions of economic life: why do we work? Why would we put ourselves in positions to endanger ourselves and waste our precious and irreplaceable time on Earth? From his first example, a poor man who was knifed to death for simple lack of freedom to avoid visiting 'a hostile area in troubled times', Sen reminds us that money is worth nothing without time and something to buy that we want more than the time we spent to get it. Escaping the ethical relativism which traps most economists (although, strangely, retaining the moral relativism of human existence and avoiding the 'natural capital' view that there are absolute and transhuman values that humans can ignore, e.g. integrity of DNA/RNA life) he focuses clearly on 'human capital' and how it is liberated through the mechanisms of 'freedom'. Transcends mere structural models such as those of Thurow and Mundell, proposes causal relationships more like those of Herman Wold, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.
A powerful and convincing work by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Possibly the first credible anarchist economist.
(c)1999 Craig Hubley - permission granted to copy without restriction as long as this notice remains
75 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A deep and compassionate book by a wise man 28 avril 2000
Par R. W. Holsbergen - Publié sur
Format: Relié
When learning economics at university I had "Economics" by Samuelson as a handbook. I learned a lot from it and I still consider it as perhaps the best available introduction into classical economics. On its own ground, this book can hardly be surpassed. But, as many others, I have come to the conclusion that the classical paradigm of economics, which this book reflects, has serious shortcomings. Samuelson fleetingly points out some of them, but he does not pay much attention to this aspect.
Of course, there exists an abundant literature by less orthodox economists in which these questions are discussed at length. Unfortunately, much of this literature is rather unbalanced.
Recently I discovered "Development as Freedom" by Amartya Sen. Finally I found a book that offers a balanced philosophical reflexion on the premises of classical economics and its relevance for the development problem.
Mr. Sen asks questions rarely asked by economist. What purpose does the acquisition of wealth serve? Mr. Sen argues that dire poverty makes people unfree. Wealth is a means to freedom. From that perspective he draws very interesting conclusions concerning development policy.
Classical economics can be a useful tool in understanding society. Samuelson's book is an excellent introduction into this discipline. But in order to put the classical paradigm in perspective, you should also read "Development as Freedom" by Mr. Sen. It is a deep and compassionate book by a wise man.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent 30 avril 2002
Par Tom Munro - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This book is in reality an argument against relying solely on the market to produce the best outcomes. In the fifties Keynsian thought was triumphant and it was thought that an unrestrained market system would lead to problems. As a result governments had to intervene to ensure demand management and to also deal with problems of structural inequality. In more recent times such an approach has been rejected and any interference with the market is seen as likely to lead to poor outcomes.
Sen suggests that there are a number of reasons for not abdicating completely to the market although acknowledging its importance as the most efficient way of determining the overall use of resources. Sen is an economist who has been concerned with Developing countries for many years. One of his specialities is the phenomena of famines, why they occur and how to prevent them.
This book is really a collection of essays that have a common theme. Sen argues strongly that the provision of certain services in developing nations not just as a means of achieving equity but of achieving development.
The first issue that he canvasses is the importance of democracy. He says that no democratic country has ever had a famine. Even in a country as poor as India it has been possible for governments to prevent famines. To explain the way famines are prevented Sen explains in some detail how they are caused. In 1943 British India suffered a famine in which 3 million people starved to death in Bengal. Oddly enough this was not brought about by a fall in the availability of food but rather by a fall in wages for some groups which led them to not being able to buy food. Sen explains that very modest employment programs have been used by successive Indian governments to prevent this happening again.
Sen then goes on to argue for the importance of the provision of medical services and education in providing freedom and the potential for development. To illustrate this he discusses the death rates and the death rates by sex in various Indian states. The difference between progressive Kerala and Rajastan are instructive.
The book is easy to read and is very interesting .
24 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
sen has mien 3 septembre 2004
Par faulu kamau - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I had no idea after reading some pretty depressing developing country scenarios in "Development as Freedom" last year, that they would affect my country (Kenya) so powerfully. Famine, one of those degrading human disasters, once again stalks my country to the extent that the President had to appeal for international food aid,how regrettable after 40 years of so-called independence.

As the author candidly points out, famine doesn't occur in countries where citizens have consistent income streams because even if rains fail, food can be imported and purchased. But as usual, in our case, the weather, rather than lack of leadership in economically empowering Kenyans(for instance through food-for-work programmes) was blamed for the famine. Condorcet, a French mathematician, is quoted in the book as saying ..."If they have a duty towards those who are not yet born, that duty is not to give them existence, but to give them happiness."

I would recommend the book to the next occupant of State House and his (or her) administration, because the current administration is too busy figuring out how to contain Raila Odinga rather than efficiently running the country.

PS. I'm aware that "Development as Freedom" is more than just about famine, but I'm too 'hungry' to outline the rest of his ideas,I beg your pardon.
31 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
If only it would be taken seriously 1 mars 2001
Par ChairmanLuedtke - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Amartya Sen clearly has a bone to pick with the dominant, economic growth-driven explanation for "development," as represented in such fashionable works as Robert Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy." Kaplan, as a big admirer of Sen's theoretical arch-enemy, Lee of Singapore, writes that "If Singapore's 2.8 million citizens ever demand democracy, they will just prove the assertion that prosperous middle classes arise under authoritarian regimes before gaining the confidence to dislodge their benefactors" (77). The obvious implication of this statement is that prosperous middle classes can only "develop" under authoritarian regimes, and in the meantime they cannot afford the luxury of having "confidence" in their own freedoms. And since all too many contemporary scholars and policymakers subscribe to this view, Amartya Sen has made it his job to detail how and why development actually has a better chance of arising under democracy than under authoritarianism, and why developing-world citizens should have "confidence" in freedom's value, regardless of their economic situation.
But what is freedom's value, to Sen? Not only does it have normative and intrinsic importance as a social good, but it also has an instrumental or "consequential" role that provides political incentives for economic security (thus helping the operation of the market and leading to economic development), as well as having a constructive role in the "genesis of values and priorities," which is the kind of substantive, social development that Sen sees as an essential companion to economic growth. This development is conceptualized as the five benefits of freedom: political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security.
As an economist, Sen does not, of course, neglect the role of the economy in the freedom/development causal process. On the contrary, Sen makes use of Adam Smith for his own purposes, though admittedly giving Smith a more "social" spin than most neoclassical economists by focusing on Smith's views of education, political freedoms, and the social context of the market. Sen accuses Smith's followers of myopically focusing on technocratic economic incentives for "development" and therefore being blind to the kind of "political incentives" that freedom can provide to a developing nation. Deftly using the Asian examples often touted by his foes, Sen argues that Japan, South Korea, etc. made large investments in social opportunity freedoms like literacy and health care before their economies boomed. In other words, sociopolitical development precedes economic development, and not the other way around.
Theoretically, Sen formulates a kind of modified, "deepened" rational choice theory, arguing that a truly rational social choice depends on an adequate "informational base" in society, which only his five benefits of freedom can provide. This use of the incentive-based rational language of orthodox economics makes Sen's critique of authoritarianism all the stronger, showing why a lack of freedoms might impede the workings of the market (by limiting the information available to rational choosers), despite the best-intentioned, purely economic incentives that might be given to an unfree population.
The bulk of Sen's evidence comes from political theory, economics and personal knowledge. Much of his causal process-tracing lacks step-by-step empirical illustrations for each link, being that this is not exclusively a work of social science, but the book as a whole is inconsistently rich with empirical justification. Indeed, it cites liberally from a large body of literature, and also draws upon a great deal of quantitative indicators for development, tracing such factors as life expectancy, GDP, infant mortality, gender disparities, and literacy rates.
The easiest critique of Sen's work is that it is nothing more than a nobly futile plea to the development policymakers and corporate players; a plea that will most likely cause them to nod their heads, say "yes, he's right, that sounds great . . . that's the way it should be," but then to push ahead anyway with their technocratic, economics-based sidestepping of the role of freedom in development. Indeed, when one discovers that "Development as Freedom" has been lauded by such influential figures as the World Bank President and "Business Week" Magazine, then one immediately suspects that something is wrong. If the World Bank and global corporate elites agree with Sen, then why aren't they pushing his recommendations more aggressively? The answer is that most development players have an interest in keeping Sen's freedoms at bay. Sen might argue that these players need to read his book and realize that their objective, long-term interests actually lie in pushing freedoms (longer life, healthcare, education, etc.), but the immediate pursuit of such freedoms is a hard sell to the struggling factory owner or the finance minister under pressure from the IMF. Long-term interests have rarely figured into the real, ground-level process of market-driven development, and there's no reason to expect that this unfortunate state can be changed anytime soon. Development is driven by multinational corporations who favor a "liberal" investment climate made up of fiscal restraint, a restraint that tends (in practice) to divert resources and attention from the kinds of freedoms that Sen proposes.
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