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Framing Social Justice through the Capabilities Lens: Examining Post-Conviction Labor Market Barriers

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

This thesis relates two bodies of existing research: (1) the use of the Capabilities Approach (CA) as a theory of justice and (2) labor market reentry barriers created by conviction history. The CA is an alternative analytical framework to understanding social justice than alternatives such as Utilitarian, Egalitarian, or Contractarian conceptions. The discussion of economic implications of conviction history on labor market opportunities already exists in economic literature. However, research which has been done to this point has predominantly utilized a limited neoclassical framework. This results in analyses which do not convey the full picture of justice. The CA considers a broader understanding of human functioning while remaining rooted in the economic concerns of decision making and resource distribution. Literature in other social-sciences (such as sociology and criminology) has dealt with the non-monetary implications of conviction history for labor-market entry. As the Capabilities Approach has not been employed in mainstream use or discussion, I argue for its fitness to examine issues of social justice. I take the opportunity to introduce this approach to the subject of post-conviction labor market barriers. By examining this topic through the CA lens, I demonstrate its effectiveness beyond its theoretical roots. To fully discuss the labor market-related capability deprivations caused by conviction history requires international comparisons. The U.S. context can (and must) be compared to other cultures and nations. As this thesis functions in partial fulfillment of my B.S. in World Languages and Cultures: Italian, Italy is a country of comparative interest to me, but this is by no means a strict limitation. The potential implications of using the CA lens are global and key to advancing our policy implementation in all aspects of increasingly modern and globalized societies. Current discussions, research, and policy relating to topics of Social Justice stand to benefit greatly from the depth of understanding and codified language afforded by the CA

Presenter Name: Jack Gambassi

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #32
College: Social & Behavioral Science
School / Department: Economics
Research Mentor: Richard Fowles
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 10:30 AM