Frances Tay McHugh (email@example.com) 1/11
“The process of empowerment, by enabling people to articulate and assert by wordsand by deeds their urges and thinking, is a core dimension of social development.”Discuss this statement, and explain the key challenges that may arise from adopting“empowerment” as a development objective.Introduction
In discussing empowerment and the challenges that arise from adopting empowerment asa development objective, it is necessary to understand the context in which the concept of empowerment has gained currency. We examine briefly how the term empowerment hascome to populate development discourses. In doing so, we also analyse the many facetsinherent in such a loaded term and reflect on the question of what constitutesempowerment. We identify that empowerment is a process that enhances agency;however, the ability to exercise agency must be viewed within the multiple contextsincluding the political, social, cultural and economic institutions which affect people’slives. We conclude that even if people are free to articulate and assert by words and deedstheir thoughts and urges, there are interactions arising from the complexities of socialrelations that may inhibit or constrain the exercise of agency.
Social development and people-centred approaches
In essence social development is the nexus of all development efforts. Regardless of thedevelopment intervention employed, ultimately the end-goal is to achieve some form of improvement in people’s lives and by extension, society at large. However, the idea of social development as a discipline in itself was absent in the early development theoriesand practices from the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, development discourses were focusedprimarily on the objectives of economic growth and modernisation as a means toeradicate poverty (Corbridge, 1995; Willis, 2001). Esteva (1992) has argued that duringthis period, social development and economic growth were perceived as interchangeable.Progressive economic growth on a measurable, predictable scale was thought to equate tosocial development. Free markets, if you will, was seen to be synonymous with liberationand greater democratisation, and ultimately the way out of poverty. Newly independent