Using the Capabilities Approach with children and young people – Literature review

The Capabilities Approach is a means of developing a common framework of goals to address inequality and disadvantage.

Image with key points from the Using the Capabilities Approach with support children and young people Literature review. Text says: The Capabilities Approach (CA) enables the development of a multidimensional framework that defines and evaluates social justice goals to address inequality & disadvantage. • Capability domains should be determined by the group affected by the particular social justice issue. • Each domain can be analysed according to conversion factors at personal, social and structural levels, to determine key enablers and barriers to achieving the goal. • CA is a useful approach for CNS because: o It offers a common framework of goals for all stakeholders o Children & young people define the capabilities set in each neighbourhood o The barriers and enablers to achieving goals can be identified at personal, social and structural levels, allowing detailed evaluation of the contextual conditions for change. • Children’s capabilities are unique in that: o They are linked to adults’ capabilities and capacities o Capabilities differ across age and life cycle o Capabilities are inter-related (e.g. education is a pre-requisite to the achievement of other capabilities) • CNS will develop a CA framework for children & young people in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock by combining literature on Getting it Right For Every Child/children’s rights/capabilities with locally-defined capabilities generated through dialogue with local children & young people.
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Capabilities were developed by Amartya Sen (1992) and Martha Nussbaum (2012) and works with the group affected to determine what should be the indicators of ‘a good life.’ The approach sets out a series of goals and indicators in areas such as health, education, relationships and participation. The enablers and barriers to achieving goals can then be analysed at personal, social and structural levels, to identify the kinds of resources required.

Previous work on children’s capabilities highlights the links to adult capabilities, the importance of age in determining which goals are important and when, and the fact that capabilities goals may be linked (e.g. education as a pre-requisite of other goals).

Our focus on the Capabilities Approach in Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland is twofold: as a means of giving children and young people a central voice within the project, and to develop a shared set of goals amongst stakeholders.

To cite this literature review:

Ward, S. 2018 Using the Capabilities Approach with children and young people. Glasgow: Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland 2018.

More resources

Using the Capabilities Approach at Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland plans to identify a capability set with and for children and young people, to give us a broad set of goals to which our stakeholders can contribute.

Read more in our blog post