OnePlusOne has been developing the relational capability framework throughout our history. It draws on the capability approach of Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen, which has been expanded on by others, such as philosopher and ethicist, Martha Nussbaum. The capability approach suggests that societies and governments should promote the capabilities of individuals to live a life they value. According to Nussbaum, engaging in a relationship is one such capability. From our perspective, that resonates deeply with the extensive body of research around why and how relationships matter.
The building blocks of relational capability are laid down in infancy and early childhood. This is when children develop social and cognitive capacities, such as emotional understanding, perspective-taking and emotional regulation. These form the basis of internal relational capability. With these foundations in place, children are able to create the relationships that see them engage successfully, first with those closest to them, then with others they encounter in education, the workplace and an ever-widening social world. Capability begets capability.
At OnePlusOne, we have focused on an individual’s capacity to initiate and maintain relationships, and the opportunity to use that capacity. So, our concept of relational capability differentiates between internal relational capability (the skills for making and maintaining relationships) and relational opportunity (the conditions that enable individuals to use those skills).