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From Individual to Collective Capabilities: The Capability Approach as a Conceptual Framework for Self-help

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  • Solava Ibrahim
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    This paper emphasizes the importance of collectivities for human capabilities. Using the example of self-help, the paper demonstrates how the poor can act together to expand and exercise new 'collective capabilities'. The paper argues that the Capability Approach (CA), with its emphasis on freedoms and agency, is a suitable — however insufficient — conceptual framework for self-help analysis. It points out the limitations of the CA in capturing the interactive relationship between individual capabilities and social structures. To incorporate this 'collective' dimension within the CA, the paper re-emphasizes the intrinsic and instrumental value of social structures, explores the concepts of collective freedoms and collective agency, and compliments the CA with the literature on collective action, institutions and social capital into an integrated analytical framework for 'collective capabilities'. The paper finally operationalizes this framework through three case studies of self-help initiatives among the poor in Egypt.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 397-416

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:7:y:2006:i:3:p:397-416
    DOI: 10.1080/14649880600815982
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