New Book: The Capability Approach to Labour Law

Brian Langille, The Capability Approach to Labour Law, Oxford University Press

Forty years ago Amartya Sen introduced to the world a novel approach to the idea of equality: the notion of 'basic capability' as 'a morally relevant dimension' and the claim that we should focus upon equality of basic capabilities ('a person being able to do certain basic things'). These ideas, as developed by Sen and Martha C. Nussbaum, have launched an academic armada now proceeding under the flag of the 'capability approach' (CA). While that flag has ventured far and wide and engaged many areas of inquiry, this volume of essays is the first to explore how CA might shed light upon labour law.

The capabilities approach can illuminate our understanding of labour law across three dimensions. Part I looks at the nature of the basic relationship between CA and labour law-do they share common ground or disagree about what is important? Can the CA provide a normative 'foundation' for labour law? Part II goes further by examining the relationship of the CA and other well-established perspectives on labour law, including economics, history, critical theory, restorative justice, and human rights. Part III examines the possible relevance of the CA to a range of specific labour law issues, such as freedom of association, age discrimination in the workplace, trade, employment policy, and sweatshop goods.

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