Recent Philosophies of Social Protection: From Capability to Ubuntu

Global Social Policy 16 (2):132-150 (2016)
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In the past decade or two, philosophies of social protection have shifted away from a nearly exclusive focus on the subjective and the individual (e.g., autonomous choices, utility) and towards values that are more objective and relational. The latter approaches, typified by the well established Capabilities Approach and the up and coming ethic of ubuntu, have been substantially inspired by engagements with the Global South, particularly India and Africa. In this article, part of a special issue titled ‘The Principles and Practice of Social Protection’, I focus exclusively on these two newer normative philosophies of social protection, my main aim being to compare and contrast several of their theoretical and practical implications for a variety of its dimensions. I conclude by also suggesting that the implications of ubuntu are often more attractive than those of the Capabilities Approach, and hence that the former should be taken no less seriously as potentially foundational when thinking about social protection, poverty and related matters of public policy.  .

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Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria


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