Development as Freedom
By Amartya Sen
Review by Annabelle (PPE)
Having become really interested in applying for PPE, I was trying to find something to read that really explored the link between all three. That’s how I came across this book. Sen is primarily an economist but he also delves into the political and philosophical implications of how we look at development. What I loved about this book is that it introduced me to economic concepts with no maths whatsoever and although I started reading it just to give me some economic knowledge, I ended up actually really enjoying it.
The book is relatively daunting as it is quite long and wordy at times but persevere! Sen spends a lot of that time repeating his points to really hammer them home and help you get to grips with what he’s saying. I found it inspiring as it showed me how thinking about development differently can really affect what we do to help people, showing me exactly how important economics is. Sen does this by illustrating how thinking of a person’s political, social and economic freedom actually shows us much more than just looking at each measure individually. This helps us prescribe much more effective aid such as improving child mortality rates by empowering and educating women.
I found the idea that something so conceptual could have such an impact on the world around me incredibly exciting as Sen provides countless examples wherein enhancing agency can be more effective than simply improving wellbeing. The book is also structured well, as there are certain chapters Sen himself recommends skipping if you aren’t too comfortable with the more theoretical side of things and particular chapters deal with issues in different regions of the world. Overall, if you are looking for something interesting and inspiring to read, I’d highly recommend this book.
Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen