A multidimensional approach to the analysis of individual deprivation: the model and the results of an empirical investigation

D'Emilione, Matteo, Giovanna Giuliano, Paolo Raciti, and Simona Tenaglia (2011). "A multidimensional approach to the analysis of individual deprivation: the model and the results of an empirical investigation" Paper presented at the 8th annual conference of the HDCA, 6-8 September 2011, the Hague, the Netherlands.

This paper investigates the heuristic added value of the concept of Agency and develops a conceptual model that is amenable for a qualitative application of the capability approach to the field of socio-vocational integration of young disadvantaged school leavers in transition from school to work. It is argued that the capability approach with it`s mainly normative orientation and it`s predominantly quantitative operationalization requires a reformulation and reconceptualization in order to account for the processual and interactive dimension of Agency, especially in qualitative research designs. It is then argued that existing concepts applied in biographical and socialization research can bring some major contributions for a conceptual furthering of the C.A., particularly for the use and analysis of narratives in a capability perspective. In following Arjun Appadurai`s reading of the C.A. as an invitation to “widen our conception of how human beings engage their own futures” (Appadurai 2004), this contribution aims at presenting a analytical framework for the investigation of how young disadvantaged people develop future projects and subjectively viable life-plans in the light of a more and more restrictive labour market, often without possessing the necessary resources for doing so. This contribution is structured as follows: After a short display of the central role of “Agency” in the theorethical architecture of the capability approach, recent discussions which critically assess the concept of Agency of the capability approach are depicted. These accounts, albeit mostly well-disposed to the C.A. in general, point towards the conceptual underdeterminedness of the C.A. when it comes to account for the role of “culture” and language, (Deneulin 2006, Jackson 2005 ) the neglect of the processual and interactive dimension of Agency, (Zimmerman 2005) as well as the “individualist” conception of the person (Dean 2009). Based on these objections, it is called for a sociological respecification of the concept of Agency as it is used in the capability approach. In drawing on a a project in which the capability approach is used for the analysis of transitions from school to work of school leavers participating in two “transition mesures” aiming at professional integration, possible conceptual links between the concept of agency – as depicted in the capability approach and biographical research are investigated. The contribution closes with a first insight in preliminary findings and develop some routes for further inquiry.
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