Reclaiming Humanity: From Capacities to Capabilities in Understanding Parenting in Adversity

Anna Gupta, Brid Featherstone, Sue White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores how the Capability Approach (CA) can inform a critical analysis of child protection policy, with particular reference to poverty, parenting and maltreatment. The CA, originally developed by the Nobel-Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, is an approach that has been used widely in a range of disciplines and policy domains. Here, we outline the CA and examine how it can inform our understanding of the impact of the current policies on families living in poverty and especially those involved in the child protection system. The CA offers a multidimensional framework that incorporates both individual and social causes into analysis. Drawing upon the CA, we argue that there is both a moral and legal imperative to rethink current child welfare policy in relation to families living in poverty. We suggest that the CA offers a framework for the development of more humane and socially just social work practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-354
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date23 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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