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Searching for identity in the capability space

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Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

In this paper, we consider the extension of the conception of the economic agent as a person who chooses particular actions in relation to his or her social identity. We do this in particular by analysing Akerlof and Kranton's recent models on 'economics and identity' (2000). Amartya Sen has over the years consistently pointed out that a person might have different reasons to choose, including not only those that increase a person's self-interested utility, however broadly this self might be defined. The question then is how should one assess a person's well-being if her choices are not based on the maximisation of her 'own' utility. Against the background of these considerations, we will present our own analysis of the economic agent's identity, which is motivated not by the self-interested choices, but by achieving consistency between one's characteristics and one's desired self-image through participation in different social groups. We propose to situate this identity-conception in a space of capabilities.

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