On considering the application of Amartya Sen’s capability approach to an information-based rights framework

I’m pleased to announce the publication of “On considering the application of Amartya Sen’s capability approach to an information-based rights framework” in the journal Information Development. This article was co-authored with colleagues at UW-Milwaukee: Johannes Britz, Anthony Hoffmann, Shana Ponelis, and Peter Lor.

We live in an information society, and, resultantly, significant attention is devoted to ensure “information-based rights” are protected among other essential human rights. Fostering and protecting information-based rights is essential to human well being, and the traditional strategies to support these rights focus on ensuring free and unfettered access to information, such as the right to education, the freedom to read, or providing for fair use of copyright-protected works. While ensuring informational goods and services are accessible is necessary for participation in our contemporary information society, we argue, however, that given the complexity of our information environment, additional factors must be considered within any information-based rights framework. Building on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, we suggest that individuals’ ability to access and use information is influenced by their relative capabilities. Those advocating for information-based rights – such as the free software, access to knowledge, and open access movements – must adjust their focus to include not only achieving access, but also the fostering of human capabilities.

The full citation is: Britz, J., Hoffmann, A., Ponelis, S., Zimmer, M., & Lor, P. (2012). On considering the application of Amartya Sen’s capability approach to an information-based rights framework, Information Development, 29(2), 106-113.

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