Barbara M. Hobson , Ph.D.

Professor (emer.) of Sociology

Stockholm University

Born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pa., USA
Studied Sociology and History at Pennsylvania State University and at Boston University


The Widening Gap in Capabilities: a Multi-Dimensional Approach

Recent public debate and research have focused on the widening gap in inequalities across regions and countries and within societies. Whereas most of this research revolves around inequalities in income and wealth, I deepen and nuance this conversation by focusing on inequalities in capabilities with respect to transnational migration and integration, precarious employment, work-life balance, access to care, and diversities in agency inequalities.
The specific aims are to provide conceptual models and strategies for socio-logical research with a more dynamic institutional analysis of 1) the salience of global institutions, processes, and actors that shape individual capabilities in European societies; 2) various dimensions of wellbeing that reveal the diversities in capabilities, such as gender, social class, ethnicity/race, age, family situation, citizenship and migrant status, and their intersections.
The project will expand my earlier analytical models operationalizing Sen's multi-dimensional, dynamic, agency-centered approach, integrating the macro-institutional contextual, meso-societal (civil society actors; community networks and public discourse), and individual experiential levels. Here, I seek to extend the theoretical borders and empirical applications of the capability approach 1) by elaborating the subjective/cognitive level of capabilities through two mechanisms shaping the conversion of capabilities to agency freedoms applied in my earlier studies: the sense of entitlement to make claims and perceived scope of alternatives; and 2) by incorporating complex dimensions of agency and capabilities emerging in multi-ethnic European societies related to citizenship, integration, and social membership.

Recommended Reading

Hobson, Barbara. "Gendered Dimensions and Capabilities: Opportunities, Dilemmas and Challenges." Critical Sociology. Advanced online publication, January 2017.
Hobson, Barbara and Susanne Fahlén. "Competing Scenarios for European Fathers: Applying Sen's Capability and Agency Framework to Work-Life Balance." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 624 (2009): 214-233.
Hobson, Barbara. Recognition Struggles and Social Movements: Cultural Claims, Contested Identities, Power and Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Tuesday Colloquium - Work in Progress02/06/18

Dienstagskolloquium - Arbeitsbericht, Tuesday Colloquium - Work in Progress