Downs, Yvonne and Watts, Michael (2009) Fatal Attraction? Feminist life history research and the capability approach. In: Capabilities Approach and Education Network, 25th June 2009, University of Cambridge. (Unpublished)

This paper gives an account of Yvonne’s PhD research, a feminist project which uses a life history methodology to focus on the value of higher education for women ‘like her’, middle aged women graduates who were born into working class families and who were the first in those families to go into higher education. Although it is Yvonne’s story and accordingly will be told in the first person from this point on, Michael is the ‘absent presence’ throughout the narrative. Having been introduced to CA by Melanie Walker who was my tutor when I did an MA in educational research at Sheffield in 2006, I met Michael when he delivered a paper on capabilities and adaptive preference at a conference I was also attending (Watts 2008a). Our conversations and email correspondence since that time comprise the bedrock, the touchstone and the lynchpin of this paper. It is the story to date of what might be termed an obsession. I have been striving for some time to understand why I was intuitively drawn to the capabilities approach (CA), interrogating it in order to ascertain whether it is compatible with my research philosophy and methodology and, if so, how it might be incorporated into and support my research aims. [1]

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