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Title: Accessibility and the capabilities approach : towards an aid to decision taking
Author: Craig, Robert H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 2096
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The concept of accessibility (hereafter “accessibility”) encapsulates the relationships between the availability of opportunities; an individual's ability to access, engage with and ‘benefit' from such opportunities, and; the problem of social exclusion. However, while “improving accessibility” has been a policy objective in the United Kingdom since 1997, an emphasis on economic and environmental considerations at the expense of social considerations has become a cause for concern. This thesis helps address that concern by exploring why and how accessibility should and could be made more directly relevant to people's everyday lives; and by proposing a form of and an approach to the implementation of accessibility that supports the provision of social interventions, irrespective of the origin and scale of the same. Consequently, this thesis critically reviews extant ideas of accessibility and redefines the concept using Amartya Sen's Capabilities Approach. It then explores the operationalization of that redefined concept through an action research case study in North-East Scotland. Finally, it examines the potential role of digital information and communication technology (ICT) in managing the accessibility related data needed to support decision taking in providing social interventions. The key findings are: (1) the capabilities approach enables the redefinition of accessibility as a holistic, more socially representative and agent centric concept; (2) that definition could be usefully related to the concept of social exclusion through the notion of risk; (3) this emerging theory and practise of accessibility requires further development to achieve broader acceptance; (4) that notwithstanding the philosophical arguments underpinning action research, the participation of ‘local' people in research can build stronger, more informed and productive (research) relationships, and; (5) the use of digital ICT is central to realising the full potential of accessibility.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Capabilities approach (Social sciences) ; Marginality ; Social