Understanding children's participation using the capability approach

Larkins, Cath orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2999-6916, Moral-Espín, Lucía del and Stoecklin, Daniel (2023) Understanding children's participation using the capability approach. In: A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: Conversations for Transformational Change. A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation (2). Routledge, London, pp. 230-236. ISBN 9781003367758

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003367758-36


Children take action in contexts and environments that have different histories, cultures and economic and political conditions, all of which affect whether, when and how children’s participation can reach its transformative potential. Capability approaches (CA) focus attention on identifying the personal and environmental conditions that need to be transformed so that everyone can access opportunities. Therefore, these approaches can help create deeper understandings of children and young people’s goals and can help them identify the resources, contexts and actions which might make it possible to achieve their goals. In this chapter, we show how a time-sensitive version of capability approaches can be used by children and their adult allies to engage in discussion and to help focus action on the underlying cultural, economic and political processes affecting their concerns. We provide a set of five co-created questions to apply CA in participatory activities and activism. We then illustrate how to use these questions in two different practice contexts. Our aim is to provide a way of looking into the spaces of children’s participation to explore goals alongside any challenges, to start to understand possible root causes and solutions over the short and longer term so that together we can work towards more fundamental change.

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