When Collectivity Makes a Difference: Theoretical and Empirical Insights from Urban and Rural Communities in Colombia

Alejandra Boni, Gynna F. Millán Franco, María Alejandra Millán Franco
Journal of Human Development and Capabilities

In this paper, we analyse two Colombian communities using elements of the capability approach. The first, Comuna 8, is an urban community in Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city. The second community is a Zona de Reserva Campesina (Peasant Farmer Reserve Zone) in the Cabrera municipality, in the Department of Cundinamarca. We explore the reasons why people value being part of a community, along with the collective capabilities that are expanded through community participation. As a product of these capabilities communities plan their own territories, which are examples of collective functionings. Social and environmental conversion factors, as well the historical background of the two communities, are key elements in the analysis. Finally, this research sheds light on individual and collective agency. This agency not only occurs in spaces recognised by Colombian law, but also in areas claimed by the communities themselves.