n South African Computer Journal - Amartya Sen's Capability Approach applied to Information Systems research : reviewed article




This paper proposes the use of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach as an appropriate conceptual framework for Information Systems research. This will be demonstrated by using the Capability Approach as the theoretical framework underpinning an exploratory study into the information flows required to make the ideal of administrative justice an attainable goal. The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of South Africa requires administrators to provide those who have been negatively affected by a decision with reasonable explanations if these are requested. Fair and accountable administration, that is, administrative justice, is identified as a basic right in the South African constitution. However, ensuring that state departments can provide information on request to even remote and poorly resourced citizens is a major undertaking and, other than taking grievances to court, it is difficult to initiate, respond to and monitor the process. The information flows pose the most significant challenges. An investigation is underway into how rural communities can use Information and Communication Technology to access this right and it is this study that will be used to illustrate the use of Sen's Capability Approach in Information Systems research. More specifically it is used to relate the role of ICT to an expansion of the capabilities of individuals and communities. The paper proposes an information flow incorporating facilitators and a 'clearing house' in addition to the citizens and administrators. Finally, the information flow is related to a schematic representation of the Capability Approach proposed by Robeyns.


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