Sociological Theory and the Capability Approach  book cover
1st Edition

Sociological Theory and the Capability Approach

ISBN 9780367726690
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
324 Pages

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Book Description

Sociological Theory and the Capability Approach connects normative strands of sociological theory to the fusion of ethics and economics proposed by Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s capability approach. Spanning classical (Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Scheler, Weber) and contemporary debates (Parsons, Giddens, Luhmann) it identifies areas that bridge the current gap between sociology and capability approach. It thus builds on explanatory and normative concerns shared by both traditions.

Engaging readers from sociology and capability approach, Spiros Gangas suggests that the proposed dialogue should be layered along the main areas of value theory, economy and society, extending this inquiry into the normative meaning attached to being human. To this end, the book reconstructs the notion of agency along the tracks of Nussbaum’s central human capabilities, considering also alienation and the sociology of emotions. It concludes by addressing the capability approach through the lens of social institutions before it takes up the challenge of ideological fundamentalism and how it can be effectively confronted by capability approach.

This original book provides a fresh perspective on capability approach as it embeds it in the rich pool of sociological theory’s accomplishments. As an exercise in theoretical and normative convergence, it will be required reading for academics and students in social theory, cultural theory, philosophy and human development studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction  Part 1: Values, Economy and Society  1. Valuing Values in Sociology and the Capability Approach  2. Economy and Society: A CA-based synthesis?  Part 2: Agency, Alienation and Emotions  3. From Agency to Capabilities: The Capable Social Self  4. From Alienation to Capability Deprivation: Reconstructing a Sociological Concept  5. The Capability Approach and the Sociology of Emotions  Part 3: Institutions, Modernity and Fundamentalism  6. ‘Capable Institutions’? Rebuilding Social Ethics  7. The Crisis of Capability? Value-Fundamentalism and Solitarist Identity  Epilogue

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Spiros Gangas is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Deree-the American College of Greece. His principal areas of research are classical and contemporary sociological theory, value theory, capability approach and film studies.


"A systematic conversation between the capabilities approach, as developed by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, and the grand tradition of sociological theory of Marx, Weber, Parsons and Habermas has long been overdue and this is precisely what Spiros Gangas offers in his original and ambitious new book. By revisiting the main tenets of the capabilities approach in light of contemporary sociological debates on normativity and social crises, Gangas articulates interdisciplinary arguments that handle successfully insights from philosophy, critical theory, economics and sociology itself in both their conceptual and normative sophistication. The result not only does justice to these traditions but also carries them forward."

 – Daniel Chernilo, Professor of Sociology, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile, and Visiting Professor of Social and Political Thought, Loughborough University, UK