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Published by: smab2162094 on Dec 23, 2009
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Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence intheir own capacities.Contents1. Definitions2. Marginalization and empowerment3. The process of empowerment4. Workplace empowerment5. Economics and empowerment6. Personal development and empowerment7. References8. Notes9. See alsoDefinitionsThe term Human Empowerment covers a vast landscape of meanings, interpretations,definitions and disciplines ranging from psychology and philosophy to the highlycommercialized Self-Help industry and Motivational sciences.Sociological empowerment often addresses members of groups that social discrimination processes have excluded from decision-making processes through - for example -discrimination based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Empowerment as amethodology is often associated with feminism: see consciousness-raising.Marginalization and empowermentThis article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article byadding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged andremoved. (July 2007)"Marginalized" refers to the overt or covert trends within societies whereby those perceived as lacking desirable traits or deviating from the group norms tend to beexcluded by wider society and ostracised as undesirables.Sometimes groups are marginalized by society at large, but governments are oftenunwitting or enthusiastic participants. For example, the U.S. government marginalizedcultural minorities, particularly blacks, prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Actmade it illegal to restrict access to schools and public places based on race. Equalopportunity laws which actively oppose such marginalization, allow increasedempowerment to occur. It should be noted that they are also a symptom of minorities' andwomen's empowerment through lobbying.Marginalized people who have no opportunities for self-sufficiency become, at aminimum, dependent on charity or welfare. They lose their self-confidence because they
cannot be fully self-supporting. The opportunities denied them also deprive them of the pride of accomplishment which others, who have those opportunities, can develop for themselves. This in turn can lead to psychological, social and even mental health problems.Empowerment is then the process of obtaining these basic opportunities for marginalized people, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized otherswho share their own access to these opportunities. It also includes actively thwartingattempts to deny those opportunities. Empowerment also includes encouraging, anddeveloping the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. This process can be difficult to start andto implement effectively, but there are many examples of empowerment projects whichhave succeeded. [Citation needed]One empowerment strategy is to assist marginalized people to create their own nonprofitorganization, using the rationale that only the marginalized people, themselves, can knowwhat their own people need most, and that control of the organization by outsiders canactually help to further entrench marginalization. Charitable organizations lead fromoutside of the community; for example, can disempower the community by entrenching adependence on charity or welfare. A nonprofit organization can target strategies thatcause structural changes, reducing the need for ongoing dependence. Red Cross, for example, can focus on improving the health of indigenous people, but does not haveauthority in its charter to install water-delivery and purification systems, even though thelack of such a system profoundly, directly and negatively impacts health. A nonprofitcomposed of the indigenous people, however, could insure their own organization doeshave such authority and could set their own agendas, make their own plans, seek theneeded resources, do as much of the work as they can, and take responsibility - and credit- for the success of their projects (or the consequences, should they fail). Numerous critical perspectives exist that propose that an empowerment paradigm is present, Clark (2008) showed that whilst there was a degree of autonomy provided byempowerment, it also made way for extended surveillance and control, hence thecontradiction perspective (Fardini, 2001).The process of empowermentThe process which enables one to gain power, authority and influence over others,institutions or society. Empowerment is probably the totality of the following or similar capabilities:-* Having decision-making power of one's own* Having access to information and resources for taking proper decision* Having a range of options from which you can make choices (not just yes/no,either/or.)* Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision making* Having positive thinking on the ability to make change* Ability to learn skills for improving one's personal or group power.
* Ability to change others’ perceptions by democratic means.* Involving in the growth process and changes that is never ending and self-initiated* Increasing one's positive self-image and overcoming stigma* Increasing one's ability in discreet thinking to sort out right and wrongIn short, empowerment is the process that allows one to gain the knowledge, skill-setsand attitude needed to cope with the changing world and the circumstances in which onelives.Workplace empowermentOne account of the history of workplace empowerment in the United States recalls theclash of management styles in railroad construction in the American West in the mid-19th century, where "traditional" hierarchical East-Coast models of control encounteredindividualistic pioneer workers, strongly supplemented by methods of efficiency-oriented"worker responsibility" brought to the scene by Chinese laborers. In this case,empowerment at the level of work teams or brigades achieved a notable (but short-lived)demonstrated superiority.Empowerment in the workplace is regarded by critics as more a pseudo-empowermentexercise, the idea of which is to change the attitudes of workers, so as to make them work harder rather than giving them any real power, and Wilkinson (1998) refers to this as"attitudinal shaping". However, recent research suggests that the opportunity to exercise personal discretion/choice (and complete meaningful work) is an important elementcontributing to employee engagement and well-being. There is evidence that initiativeand motivation are increased when people have a more positive attributional style. Thisinfluences self-belief, resilience when faced with setbacks, and the ability to visualizeoneself overcoming problems. The implication is that 'empowerment' suits some morethan others, and should be positioned in the broader and wider context of an 'enabling'work environment.Economics and empowermentIn economic development, the empowerment approach focuses on mobilizing the self-help efforts of the poor, rather than providing them with social welfare. Economicempowerment is also the empowering of previously disadvantaged sections of the population, for example, in many previously colonized African countries.Personal development and empowermentIn the arena of personal development, empowerment forms an apogee of many a systemof Self Realization or of identity (re-)formation. Realizing the solipsistic impracticality of everyone anarchistically attempting to exercise power over everyone else, empowermentadvocates have adopted the word "empowerment" to offer the attractions of such power, but they generally constrain its individual exercise to potentiality and to feel-good useswithin the individual psyche. The concept of personal development is seen as important by many employers, with emphasis placed on continuous learning, increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Empowerment is ultimately driven by theindividual's belief in their capability to influence events.

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