The organisers of the VII conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Association for Human Development and the Capabilities Approach (ALCADECA) invite researchers, policy experts, practitioners and postgraduate students of any country to send their abstract proposals for the conference titled “Public policies for human development in the context of inequality ”.

The conference will take place on the 29, 30 and 31 of May 2019 at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP), located in San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. Previous editions of the conference have taken place in Mexico City, Mexico (2006); Montevideo, Uruguay (2008); Porto Alegre, Brazil (2010); Lomas de Zamora, Argentina (2012); Lima, Peru (2014); Montevideo, Uruguay (2016).

The main theme of the conference is examining the contribution of the capability and human development approach in procuring public policies that effectively promote people’s wellbeing and the protection of the environment, given the high levels of inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The human development and capability approach (see has played a central role in revealing – theoretically and practically – the deficiencies of a conception of development that gives priority to the access to economic resources over other aspects that are important for the expansion of people’s opportunities to live a good life. In conjunction with others, this approach has contributed to the increased adoption by governments of a view of development that places people and their wellbeing at the centre, as well as the use of multidimensional indicators to assess the social realities of the region and to design and monitor public policies. However, despite these political advancements, the results of most countries in terms of human development remain insufficient. The levels of poverty and inequality have been resistant to the economic growth of the region and to the achievements reached in terms of education, health and housing for the most marginalised sectors of society. As such, Latin America remains as one of the most unequal regions in the world, not only in economic terms, but in a variety of dimensions. Millions of people continue to suffer daily from social exclusion, discrimination, and stigmatization in terms of race, ethnicity, skin colour, identity and gender, as well as from deep inequalities in the access to quality services and in the exercise of power.

These realities and their negative consequences – for example, in the loss of social cohesion and the high levels of violence –, suggest that it is necessary to place greater emphasis on the structural and relational causes of such inequalities. Hence, this conference invites to examine the extent to which the human development and the capability approach can address these challenges in practice. Particularly, it seeks to analyse how the approach can guide the design and implementation of policies capable of tackling the economic, political, social and cultural injustices that characterise our region.

The key questions that this conference seeks to explore include:

  • - Which conceptions of freedom and wellbeing are most appropriate to guide development policies in the Latin American context?
  • - Which is the best way to conceptualise capabilities and agency for the design of public policies that address inequalities (in terms of income, goods, opportunities, treatment, power, social participation)?
  • - Inequality of what? Which are the relevant inequalities that must be tackled to achieve human development?
  • - What are the consequences that inequality has over human development? How the multiple inequalities interact amongst each other?
  • - What public policies and social programmes can best promote human development in Latin American contexts characterised by political, social, economic and cultural inequalities?
  • - In which ways the methodologies and indicators of development shape the type of policies that are designed and what are their implications?
  • - In which way the political and institutional context of Latin America, limits the translation into practice of the human development approach for the design and evaluation of public policies?

The papers can examine any topic within these themes from different methodological perspectives, philosophical arguments, empirical analyses, policy evaluations, or implementation strategies. Proposals to organise thematic panels based on recent projects or fieldwork results are also welcome.

In addition to the central theme of the conference, papers discussing related topics are also welcome as long as they establish a critical dialogue with the human development and capability approach. Related themes include:

  • • Human rights and human development
  • • Inequality, multidimensional poverty and human development
  • • The politics of recognition
  • • Distributive justice and citizenship
  • • Corruption, impunity, ethics and human development
  • • Urbanization and agency
  • • Identity and agency
  • • Civil society and the State
  • • Ethics and the market
  • • Democracy
  • • State, political economy and preferences for redistribution
  • • Subjective wellbeing and happiness


Although the official language of the conference will be Spanish, abstracts in Portuguese and English can also be submitted. The presentations can be in these languages if there are volunteers available to make informal translation if necessary.

Abstract submission process

Please send your abstracts to:
More information about the application process and deadlines is available here.


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