Steen, Marc, Olav Aarts, Carlijn Broekman, and Sharon Prins (2011). "Social Networking for Well-being" Paper presented at the 8th annual conference of the HDCA, 6-8 September 2011, the Hague, the Netherlands.
It has been argued that the capability approach—‘a broad normative framework for the evaluation and assessment of individual well-being and social arrangements, the design of policies, and proposals about social change in society’ (Robeyns, 2005)—can be successfully applied to the design of products or services (Oosterlaken, 2009; 2011), for example, in the sector of information and communication technology (ICT) (Johnstone, 2007). In this paper, we discuss several ways in which the capability approach offers a valuable and useful perspective to better understand and organize processes of designing ICT. First, we present the WeCare project, in which the authors work and which will serve as an example of applying the capability approach. Next, we introduce our understanding of the capability approach. After that, we discuss several challenges in the design of ICT services, based on our experiences of working in the WeCare project. Furthermore, we explore ways in which the capability approach can help to better understand and organize projects similar to the WeCare project—projects in which ICT is considered as a means to empower people.