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Equality, Capability and Human Rights

This programme of research in CASE focuses on equality and human rights. The programme aims to explore the application of these concepts in the context of Britain and Europe in the 21st century, and to develop and implement a measurement framework based on the capability approach. The programme is led by Tania Burchardt and Polly Vizard working with Holly Holder, Tiffany Tsang, David Clark and Martin Evans among others.

Tania Burchardt explains the role that the capability approach might play in helping to integrate the equality and human rights approach.

There are a number of specific projects with the Programme for Research on Equality, Capability and Human Rights (PRECHR):
  • The capability approach, rights based approaches and public services The 2020 Public Services Trust (2020 PST) is an independent think tank that is working towards the development of a new public services model. In work supported by the ESRC, we have contributed a Chapter on the role that the capability approach and rights-based approaches (including the Human Rights Act) can play in the development of the Trust’s new pubic services model. To read this Chapter and the Trust's recent Report, Equality, Cohesion and Public Services, see
  • Developing the Human Rights Measurement Framework - October 2009 to January 2010 - completed.
    This project aims to develop a Human Rights Measurement Framework to complement the Equality Measurement Framework and facilitate Article by Article human rights monitoring and reporting. The British Institute of Human Rights and LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights are partners on the project, and LSE Human Rights Futures are unpaid advisors on the project. The project has been commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. A three-month Stakeholder consultation on the development of the Human Rights Measurement Framework took place, see specialist consultation website for details.
  • Developing the Equality Measurement Framework for children for the Equality and Human Rights Commission - September 2009 to April 2010 - completed.
    This project is taking forward the EMF for children by identifying and consulting upon a set of statistical indicators to reflect the ten domains of central and valuable capabilities for children. The Report was published in summer 2010.
  • Internal consultation on the Equality Measurement Framework for the Equality and Human Rights Commission - completed.
    This project aimed to build consensus within the EHRC around the understanding of equality recommended by the Equalities Review. It involved a series of workshops with EHRC staff. A briefing note on the Equality Measurement Framework is available in Adobe PDF format.
  • Selection of indicators for the Equality Measurement Framework - for the Government Equalities Office, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission - completed.
    This project prepared briefing papers on each of the ten domains of the Equality Measurement Framework, exploring the availability and suitability of statistical indicators. Extensive consultation with subject specialists and key government and voluntary sector stakeholders in England, Scotland and Wales followed, leading to final recommendations on a set of indicators. The final report was published in Summer 2009. These indicators will form the basis of the EHRC's monitoring of equality in its triennial reports, among other uses.
  • Measuring autonomy or choice and control for the Government Equalities Office - November 2008 to November 2009 - completed.
    This project developed and tested survey measures of the 'autonomy' aspect of equality, or the degree of choice and control people enjoy in their everyday lives, for the Equality Measurement Framework. In the first stage the concepts to be measured were clarified and existing survey questions reviewed. This was followed by cognitive testing of potentially useful questions with a diverse purposive sample of 34 individuals. Finally a subset of questions were piloted in the ONS Opinions Survey. A summary and full report were published by the GEO and are available on our publications page. An article describing the results of the cognitive interviewing is published in Social Indicators Research. Download: Full report (pdf) | Summary (pdf) | Article (pdf)
  • Developing a capability list in the British context: should attitudinal data on human rights be given a more direct role? Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant holder Dr Polly Vizard) - April 2008 - November 2009 - completed.
    Is there a shared view in Britain about the freedoms and opportunities that are of central value and concern? If so, to what extent - and which population groups disagree? The aim of the research is to examine the role that attitudinal data on human rights can play in the development of a capability list (a list of the freedoms and opportunities that are of central value and concern) in Britain. The research will examine the nature and scope of public support for human rights using nationally representative data from the Citizenship Survey. The extent of public support for a broad definition of human rights (covering economic and social rights, such as the rights to education and health) rather than a narrow definition (focusing on a narrow range of civil and political rights, such as the right to freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial) will be systematically examined. The research findings will inform on-going efforts to develop and apply the capability approach as a basis for multidimensional inequality analysis in 21st century Britain. A supplementary research aim is to influence and inform academic and political debate about the establishment of a British Bill of Rights. Read the research report: What do the public think about economic and social rights? Research Report to Inform the Debate about a Bill of Rights and a Written Constitution, CASEreport 61.
  • Time poverty and income poverty: a double bind? Funded the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (grant holder Tania Burchardt) - completed.
    This project examined the trade-offs some people make between income poverty and time poverty using the UK Time Use Survey 2000. It developed a model of time and income 'capability', based on the time-income combinations available to people, given their resources (including human and social capital) and their responsibilities (including children). Read the full report: Time and income poverty, Tania Burchardt, CASEreport 57, November 2008