Carmen Martinez-Vargas

Published On


Page Range

pp. 105-134

Print Length

29 pages

5. Co-Researchers’ Valued Capabilities

  • Carmen Martinez-Vargas (author)
Chapter Five centres around the debate on the creation of universal capabilities for all (Nussbaum, 2011) in relation to the results of the case study in South Africa. Using a prospective application of the Capabilities Approach, the chapter argues the need to identify the valued capabilities of a group of participants before undertaking participatory practices. The analysis explores the valued capabilities of the case study’s twelve co-researchers, presenting six central capabilities for this group: Epistemic, Ubuntu, Human Recognition, Self-development, Health, and Free Time and Leisure capabilities, in addition to conceputalising Colonial Conversion Factors and Insurgent Capabilities.

The chapter highlights the importance of identifying contextual capability choices when applying participatory research, instead of using a universal list, thus using Nussbaum’s central capabilities (2011) to compare and understand their differences. The chapter argues that there is good reason to scrutinise this list, as many cultural and contextual specificities are lost in such aggregations, thereby wasting the grassroots potential of the Capabilities Approach. The chapter provides alternatives ways of seeing and understanding the Capabilities Approach from a Western-centric perspective when applying participatory practices.


Carmen Martinez-Vargas