A contribution to the poverty studies in Turkey with a framework of capability approach: The case of General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2011




This study aims to contribute to the poverty studies in Turkey in terms of the capability approach introduced to the scientific literature by Nobel Laureate thinker Amartya Sen. The approach is closely connected with the idea of justice and particularly with the Rawls’s model of social justice. This study’s perception of justice is based on the idea that justice is the virtue of the institutions, but not that of individuals. Although the Rawls’s justice analysis is approved in terms of making institutional analysis, his perception regarding to the rights are criticized since these are perceived as “ends” but not the “means” of individuals’ welfare. Therefore, it is claimed in this study that holding certain sets of rights are not significant by themselves, but how they can be converted into personal wellbeing is crucial as well. In this framework, poverty is considered as capability deprivation and it is claimed that poverty analyses based on commodity ownership are not satisfactory. As the case of this study, General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity organized as the main state institution so as to alleviate the poverty in Turkey has been chosen and the question of whether the relief programs of the institution are designed to alleviate poverty by enhancing individuals’ capabilities is raised. It has been concluded in this study that (1) income centred poverty perception of the institution does not take into account the variations in needs, (2) the reliefs are designed to increase economic productivity of individuals but not the valuable capabilities and (3) the operational logic of the institution is based on managing poverty, but not alleviating it.