chapter  3
23 Pages

Three capitals

A framework
ByTom Schuller

The triangle includes a number of items which are the benefits of learning, directly or indirectly, and this is the kernel of the whole book (see Figure 2.1). The simplest way to address our analysis is therefore to think of learning as a process whereby people build up – consciously or not – their assets in the shape of human, social or identity capital, and then benefit from the returns on the investment in the shape of better health, stronger social networks, enhanced family life, and so on. However, we have at the outset to make things a little more complex, for these outcomes themselves feed back to or even constitute the capitals. They enable the capital to grow, and to be mobilised. So the items listed inside the triangle can be seen also as ‘capabilities’, in the immensely creative sense that Amartya Sen uses the term in his analysis of poverty (Sen 1992, 1999). Capabilities represent the freedom to achieve: the combination of functionings which range from basic health to complex activities or states such as being able to take part in the life of the community. The absence of these

capabilities deprives a person of the opportunity to accumulate the assets from which the benefits in turn flow (see also Chapter 9).