Towards measuring urban capabilities of children

Ble?i?, Ivan, Arnaldo Cecchini, and Valentina Talu (2010). "Towards measuring urban capabilities of children" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

In this paper we present the results of our ongoing effort to apply a capability approach (CA) for measuring urban quality of life in developed countries. Specifically, it is an attempt to apply a CA to urban environment, in order to measure individual urban capabilities, i.e. urban and spatial component of individual capabilities. Given that at the core of the CA is the contingency-dependent nature of the conversion of individual endowments into capabilities, our research programme appears legitimate insofar as it tries to explore the spatial and urban component of these contingencies. Indeed, if the sources of such contingencies can be distinguished in personal heterogeneities, diversities of the physical environment, variation in social climate and differences in relational perspectives (Sen 2009), then urban physical environment and its social context are undoubtedly relevant for the latter three. In the paper, we first discuss the approach, which we call “countabilistic”, adopted in many methodologies commonly used for measuring urban quality of life and we try to make the case for an alternative approach grounded on the CA, arguing its greater suitability and usefulness. Then we argue that very few explicit attempts have been undertaken to specifically analyse the urban context through CA spectacles. Subsequently we present the conceptual framework and the basic structure of our model based on the CA. Finally, we present some preliminary results of our first attempt to put into practice this model, through measuring the urban quality of life of children.
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