Examining Collective Action Through the Capability Approach: The Example of Community Currencies

Felix Rauschmayer, Christine Polzin, Mirijam Mock, Ines Omann

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung


Collective action—the involvement of a group of people carrying out common and voluntary actions to pursue shared interests—has a high potential to contribute to agency and wellbeing freedom. It is a current and recurrent phenomenon in society, but it is still poorly explained by the Capability Approach (CA). This paper’s main aim is to look more closely at how the CA can be used to better frame, understand and evaluate the impacts of collective action. Based on a discussion of the literature on collective capabilities and agency we suggest extending the perspective of the original approach, mainly through a more explicit distinction between three layers: individual processes, collective action, and social institutions. We argue that such an extension is useful in order to evaluate how collective action can alter wellbeing and agency freedoms. By way of example, we look at community currency (CC) initiatives—trading schemes that are designed and implemented as a supplement to the legal tender money—and employ the three-layered CA to describe and evaluate the effects of acting collectively in such a setting. We also point out what distinguishes such an assessment from other approaches that we have found in the literature on CC. We conclude that a more systematic analysis of collective action through the CA may enable the latter to provide for useful assessments of collective action.

Keywords: Capability Approach, Agency, Agency freedom, Wellbeing freedom, Collective action, Community currencies, Collective capabilities
FachzeitschriftJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2017