Capabilities and Universalism--An Empirical Examination: The Case of the Ultra-Orthodox Community: The Case of the Ultra-Orthodox Community

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Abstract

Can the existing capabilities lists be said to be universal? This question was examined using in-depth interviews of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel based on the assumption that a community whose norms and practices are subject to strict rules and to the authority of texts would have a different notion of the most fundamental capabilities than a secular community. The results suggest that while some capabilities on the existing lists were viewed as highly important and likely to conform to the universal claim, others need to be modified in order to adapt to local cultural codes. Some capabilities were rejected by the interviewees, which brings into question their universality. Moreover, the interviewees found two additional capabilities important. The first important additional capability was that one’s community and culture be formally recognised as unique and special; the second even more pronounced capability was the opportunity to lead a meaningful and spiritual life. I conclude by suggesting that leading a meaningful and spiritual life is consistent with Sen’s theory of capabilities of human development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-98
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Dec 2019

Funding

FundersFunder number
Max Kampelman Chair
Israel InstituteGL20057
Israel Institute
Hebrew University of Jerusalem0361212
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    Keywords

    • capabilities
    • recognition
    • spirituality
    • ultra-Orthodox Jews
    • universalism

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