Santibañez García, Carlos Alonso (2017). 'Political movements and collective capabilities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


During the last peruvian elections, Keiko Fujimori was on the lead just one week before the election day, according to the voter intention polls. She is the daughter of the populist former president Alberto Fujimori, in prison for having committed crimes against humanity and crimes of corruption. On the other hand, the rightist candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski started the competition in the first place in people´s preferences but his weak strategy left him second. Against this background, civil society groups organized to change the electoral trend and to stop Keiko Fujimori for becoming the new ruler. The strongest movement was the movement “No a Keiko”, which gathered different groups, personalities and activists and started a campaign against Fujimori. One week before the Election Day, the trend changed and Kuczynski won by only 50,000 votes.

The control over one’s environment is one of the ten capabilities Nussbaum proposes, and the political participation is a gravitating element in the capability approach. David Crocker even proposes to call this approach as the agency approach. That is the framework of this study, the linkage between the political phenomenon and the capability approach. But ¿how is that political influence achieve? We focus in the collective capabilities for answer that question.

This research is focused on the relation between collective action and the expansion of opportunities among the people who participate in political movements. The aim is to contribute to the discussion about collective capabilities and to analyze an element of democracy from the capability approach. In that regard, the study begin with an analyze of the political context and how the movement “No a Keiko” (Not Keiko) arised. Then, we analyze how the political organization of the movement generated collective capabilities in the people involved. The hypothesis that guides the paper is that the political organization of the movement “No a Keiko” created capabilities among its members through the solidarity, the development of the conflict and the limits of the system where it takes place.

To understand this process, we present a theoretical framework that gathers the different positions around the collective capabilities (Pelenc et al 2013; Ballet et al 2007; Ibrahim 2006, 2013; Deneulin 2006, 2008); here we discuss some important elements of the discussion like collective freedom and collective agency. Next, we define social movements from the European perspective of Alberto Melucci. This author proposes to focus on the organization process of a social movement, which displaces the focus from to “movement” itself to the members of it. For that reason, he argues that the social movement is less a point of arrival and more a point of departure.

Finally, the methodology for this research is qualitative, based on interviews and journals reviews to approach the movement “No a Keiko” and the context. 

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