Analytical Considerations of 'Power' as the Basis and the Goal of 'Empowerment'

Published on


The concept/objective of 'empowerment' is one of the most abstract and contingent phenomena that development agencies ever deal with. This is because the term derives from and depends on the protean, multi-faceted phenomenon of power, something understood intuitively but seldom analyzed and made concrete The inherent ambiguity and elusiveness of 'power' makes devising operational strategies for 'empowerment' extremely difficult. Arbitrary definitions of 'what is power' give only nominal advantage. Effective solutions need to be grounded in and reflective of real-world relationships, constraints and motivations -- not just in words, however lofty and inspiring these may be.


Norman Uphoff

Available languages