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J Appl Meas. 2016;17(1):109-24.

Applying the Rasch Model to Measure Mobility of Women: A Comparative Analysis of Mobility of Informal Workers in Fisheries in Kerala, India.

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Nikhila Menon, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), II Floor Arthur Lewis Building, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, M13 9PL, UK,


Mobility or freedom and ability to move is gendered in many cultural contexts. In this paper I analyse mobility associated with work from the capability approach perspective of Sen. This is an empirical paper which uses the Rasch Rating Scale Model (RSM) to construct the measure of mobility of women for the first time in the development studies discourse. I construct a measure of mobility (latent trait) of women workers engaged in two types of informal work, namely, peeling work and fish vending, in fisheries in the cultural context of India. The scale measure enables first, to test the unidimensionality of my construct of mobility of women and second, to analyse the domains of mobility of women workers. The comparative analysis of the scale of permissibility of mobility constructed using the RSM for the informal women workers shows that women face constraints on mobility in social and personal spaces in the socially advanced state of Kerala in India. Work mobility does not expand the real freedoms, hence work mobility can be termed as bounded capability which is a capability limited or bounded by either the social, cultural and gender norms or a combination of all of these. Therefore at the macro level, growth in informal employment in sectors like fisheries which improve mobility of women through work mobility does not necessarily expand the capability sets by contributing to greater freedoms and transformational mobility. This paper has a significant methodological contribution in that it uses an innovative method for the measurement of mobility of women in the development studies discipline.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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