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WP4 - Theoretical foundations of social investment

Development of a ‘social investment’ theory grounded in human rights and capabilities to be used as a theoretical compass for the orientation of the EU’s Social Investment Package and based on the Capability Approach of Amartya Sen.


WP4 will provide the normative foundations for a social investment model geared towards human development, in two main stages:

1. in line with Sen, we will first develop a conception of human development based on the combination of the human rights perspective and the capability approach. Three kinds of rights and resources will be investigated: resources for well‐being, resources for agency and resources for participation, as well as the issue of their adequate interrelation. What kinds of combinations of provision of rights and resources in these three fields should be promoted by public action and, more widely, by the joint action of the public, the third sector and private actors?

2. the concept of social investment as a policy approach will be introduced into the human rights and capabilities framework. In particular, we will investigate how the social dimension of capabilities can be elaborated and what role societies, public services, and civil society organisations play in enhancing capabilities. By taking the social embeddedness of individual capabilities into account, the capability approach also accommodates human diversity in general and diversity among European regions in particular.

A private copy of the synthesis report of this workpackage is available on request.

To do

Our social‐philosophical model will be subsequently used to evaluate the EU’s social policy framework (and the SIP in particular) from a perspective of social cohesion and social inclusion. The work will be split up into two stages:

1. we will examine the policy documents of the EU’s Social Investment Package (SIP; see EC, 2013) against the developed yardstick and identify the required adjustments necessary to maximise its impact on human development.

We will assess:

    • the adequate combination between cash benefits and active programmes;
    • the implicit view of “agency” purported within activating social policies and the SIP;
    • the role assigned to participation of beneficiaries or local stakeholders within the SIP;

2. we will examine the broader policy mix within which the SIP is embedded.