Human development: which way now?

Nuno Ornelas Martins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The capability approach to human development, which has been very influential within the United Nations Development Programme, has been instrumental in bringing out an emphasis on final goals of development connected to the expansion of human freedom. Because these final goals are also seen as means for further development, there is a tendency to neglect other means of development, such as changes in the productive structure and in the distribution of power within the relations of production. Here I assess the intellectual origins of the capability approach to human development, and its influence on development discourse. I argue that it is important to bring back to development discourse, and to the capability approach to human development in particular, a concern with productive structures that characterised earlier approaches to development centred on industrialisation. This requires a greater focus on how power relationships in productive systems influence human capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-418
Number of pages15
JournalNew Political Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Economic theory
  • Human capabilities
  • Human development
  • Power relationships
  • Productive systems


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