Local Communities and Capability Evolution: The Core of Human Development Processes

The capability approach has the power to examine how different societal arrangements can be pivotal for the fulfilment and/or deprivations of individual human capabilities and human development [Sen, A. K. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press]. However, little analysis has been so far devoted to the centrality of the local community for human capabilities, which constitutes the most proximate socio-institutional setting that most directly shapes individual and collective well-being. In order to reflect about the relations between community and capabilities, this paper embraces a geographical definition of community (complementary—not superior—to other conceptualizations) with a twofold scope. Firstly, it aims at filling the theoretical vacuum presenting an extension of the STEHD framework (Sustainable Territorial Evolution for Human Development) introduced by Biggeri and Ferrannini [2014a. Sustainable Human Development: A New Territorial and People-centred Perspective. New York: Palgrave Macmillan], which links the individual, collective and local community dynamics affecting human capabilities. Secondly, it aims at showing how this framework can help to examine the different processes in place at the community level, by applying to the case study of a Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme implemented in Mandya and Ramanagaram Districts (Karnataka State, India). The paper is structured into five sections. After the introduction, the second section introduces the STEHD framework and reveals its potential to frame the local community dynamics. In the third section, the case study is introduced and the main results in terms of human development outcomes are discussed. In the fourth section, the dynamic processes of individual, collective and community change fostered by the CBR programme are analysed by applying the STEHD framework. The last section concludes.

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