n AfricaGrowth Agenda - Reinventing Amartya Sen’s paradigm of human development

Volume 17 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1811-5187


Since its birth during the sunset of the twenty century, Amartya Sen’s paradigm of human development has been the most acknowledgeable revolution in social sciences. It can be studied as a moral philosophy, political economy, welfare economics, distributive justice theory, social contract theory, and a new metric of human progress. It is a powerful conceptual model having considerable proficiency to replace the hegemony of neoliberalism as mainstream economics and development policy. However, the takeover process has not happened yet because, first, neoliberalism is not only a powerful economic brand, but also an ideology deeply rooted in the genes of conventional market societies and people’s mindset; second, there is a growing feeling that Sen’s paradigm still needs to take distance from neoliberal survival stratagems intended to opportunistically gain possession of some suitable attributes of the human development brand; and third, it is quite visible the insufficiency of the whole set of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (whose origins essentially descend from Sen’s thoughts) to produce accurate transformative changes that can radically substitute the prevalent neoliberal distribution theory, known as «trickle-down economics», that has driven most market societies to intolerable levels of wealth and income concentration with the repulsive consequences of breaking social cohesion everywhere, and even worse, reviving archaic and noxious class struggle ideologies. All these undesirable factors and circumstances working together suggest that it is a good moment to reinvent Sen’s paradigm in the best sense of the word. This essay contains a brief introduction to the main features of the reinvention process showing at the same time an epistemic path to erect Sen’s paradigm as the dominant model to follow.

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