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Doctoral Project

The Power of Individual Freedom as a Concept and Practice in Development – Operationalisation of the Capability Approach for Assessing the Impact of Poverty-Oriented Microfinance in India 
Markus Pauli (Dipl.-Pol.)

Western notions of how to define, measure and alleviate poverty were challenged and altered significantly through the capability approach of Amartya Sen and through the success of microcredit, promoted by Muhammad Yunus. The shift in development theory and practice towards people-centred policies was furthered by Sen's idea of 'development as individual freedom' and Yunus' demonstration that 'the poor are bankable'.
This project analyses the shifting asymmetries in the realm of development theory and practice by tracing transcultural flows of ideas and analytical concepts, showing how theory, essentially forged in the West, referring predominantly to assumptions born out of the Western experience of industrialisation, has been and is being stretched and deepened. By tracking the institutionalisation of these ideas within places of 'legitimate speech', their implications, boundaries and inter-discourses will be assessed.
Furthermore, controversies about the role of the state, the market, and their interplay within the socio-cultural, institutional and political economy context of microfinance in India will be examined. In order to compare the impact of different microfinance models, the capability approach of Amartya Sen will be operationalised for an impact analysis of microfinance. Therefore, data will be generated through fieldwork at poverty-oriented Microfinance Institutions in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, combining qualitative and quantitative methods.


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