New article by former ODID DPhils examines place of technology in Capability Approach

18 May, 2017

A new article published in Oxford Development Studies by former ODID DPhils Margo Haenssgen and Proochista Ariana contributes to the theoretical development of the Capability Approach by exploring the role of technology.

Increasing scholarly attention has focussed on how to integrate technology within the Capability Approach, but with no consistent solution. Some scholars describe technology as a special kind of capability input; others consider the concept of technology to be fundamentally different from that of an ordinary input.

The article aims to contribute to the theoretical development of the CA by offering a consistent justification for the explicit inclusion of technology in the framework.

It proposes that technical objects have a ‘generative’ and a ‘transformative’ dimension through which they enable capabilities directly and affect other inputs in the attainment of valued capabilities.

These objects acquire the transformative dimension from the broader technological context, which we propose as a new class of conversion factors. Using the example of mobile phones and their role in healthcare access, we demonstrate that our proposal helps to frame the analysis of the development impact of technology.

Marco J Haenssgen & Proochista Ariana (2017) The place of technology in the Capability Approach Oxford Development Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2017.1325456