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List of Academic Writing

Research: Welcome

My research is cross-disciplinary, looking at different areas that relate to the constraints that shape the ability of people to live a life that they have reason to value. Of central concern in this work are issues related to inequality and disadvantage for people in modern society. Some of my work is aimed at addressing the structures that produce inequality and disadvantage. This includes understanding the role that the state plays and also the role that organisations can play in supporting people and improving their lives.

Research: About

My PhD

Research: PhD

Freedom as Capability: how the capability approach can improve our understanding of freedom in established democracies

Available via open access here:

Annual measures of democracy are one of the most important tools used by scholars in understanding democratic quality in a cross-national manner. This thesis argues that there are limitations with existing measures of democracy, and presents a new measure of democracy which employs a more expansive definition of freedom: freedom as capability. A central component of measures of democracy is the definition of freedom which they employ, as this heavily influences the way that a measure with the concept of democracy. Different definitions of freedom are tied to different models of human agency, placing different demands on what is required for individuals to be able to function freely as democratic citizens. Considering the closeness of the relationship between freedom and democracy in democratic theory, this is an important issue for measurement to address. Identifying the degree to which this influences contemporary understandings of democratic quality, this thesis examines the way that the concept of freedom is incorporated into existing measures of democracy. It finds that the definition of freedom which is most commonly employed in measures of democracy is the definition of freedom as non-interference. This is problematic since freedom as non-interference is poorly suited to identifying the current problems arising in established democracies, especially those associated with growing inequality. It is argued that freedom as capability, a definition of freedom developed through the capability approach, is a definition of freedom which can provide further insight on the quality of democracy in established democracies, because it identifies different types of constraints which individuals face when engaging with the political process. The new measure of democracy created employs the definition of freedom as capability to demonstrate how measures can be developed which are more sensitive to problems being encountered in established democracies. The measure emphasises problems associated with economic, educational, and health inequalities, as these can represent constraints which limit the freedom of citizens to engage in the political process. In doing so, the thesis presents a measure of democracy which is better equipped to identify meaningful differences in the quality of democracy in established democratic societies. The output of the new measure of democracy is compared to other popular measures of democracy to demonstrate that theoretical differences in conceptualising democracy translate into real differences in measurement output.

Journal Articles

Research: Journal Articles

Brown, J.T., Malbon, E., and Carey, G., (2021) What’s in a Form? Examining the Complexity of Application Forms and Administrative Burden, Australian Journal of Public Administration Special Issue on Administrative Burden, doi: 10.1111/1467-8500.12531


Brown, J.T., Banks, M., and Bowman, D., (2020) From me to us: Strengthening our financial capabilities, Economic Papers, 39(4) doi: 10.1111/1759-3441.12295 

Hannah, A., Brown, J.T., and Gibbons, A. (2020). Welfare capabilities: Evaluating distributional inequalities and welfare policy in advanced democracies, Journal of European Social Policy, 30(3), 293-305, doi: 10.1177/0958928719868447 


Brown, J.T., Thorp, S., Heard, C., and Garrow, M. (2022) Indirect costs in the Australian for-purpose sector: Paying what it takes for Australian for-purpose organisations to create long-term impact, Sydney, Australia: Social Ventures Australia (SVA), & Centre for Social Impact (CSI), UNSW


Brown, J.T., and Noone, J., (2021) Amplify Insights: Financial Wellbeing, Sydney, Australia: Centre for Social Impact (CSI), UNSW

Elmes, A., Brown, J.T., Carey, G., and Moussa, B. 2021. Social Security and Stigma in Australia. Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology, and University of New South Wales. DOI: 10.25916/xkr0-gv94


Brown, J.T., Carey, G., and Noone, J., (2020) Financial wellbeing and COVID-19: CSI Response, Sydney, Australia: Centre for Social Impact (CSI), UNSW

Brown, J.T. (2020), Economic dignity and financial capabilities: Connecting principles and concepts, The Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Centre, Fitzroy, VIC 


Brown, J.T., Bowman, D. (2020), Economic dignity and financial capabilities: A Framework, The Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Centre, Fitzroy, VIC

Research Reports and Discussion Papers

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