Empowerment In Community Development

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Empowerment in Community Development

Empowerment in Community Development


Empowerment may be defined in many specific ways, but in common is the idea of providing people the “power” necessary to fulfill their job responsibilities without having to secure approval from others (i.e., supervisors). With empowerment, control over the means of getting the job done is left with the person doing the job, creating greater control over the results produced. This responsibility for producing results leads to greater ownership on the individual's part for both the input and output of production.

Some argue that empowerment is nothing new but, for example, just today's equivalent for previous management concepts such as participative decision-making, team building, job enrichment, and the like. Others argue that empowerment is “oversold,” really nothing more than a buzzword or slogan; or that it is an overrated concept that ignores or minimizes, among other things, political realities and workload increases. Furthermore, failures in implementation have led to feelings ranging from disappointment to disillusionment and anger about empowerment.

Community Development and Empowerment

To be a part of a community is to be a part of a team, a team that focuses on and encompasses all its members. The community should be one that is built on the common interests of its members, a community that creates a sense of belonging to a group that goes beyond family and friends, accompanied by a sense of loyalty to others and responsibility for neighbours and the surrounding area.

The common interests within a community are usually represented in a variety of fashions. Preservation of the environmental surroundings is a common interest and common concern for the majority of community members. Those living in urban areas are often concerned about varying issues encompassing the care and maintanance of the immediate environment, whereas urban communities would have concerns around issues such as recycling and housing. Regardless of the geographical location, preservation of the environment is an interest that requires the attention of all members of a community.

Another common interest among members of a community is the feeling one receives when they belong to a group, a sense of belonging and inclusion. Inclusion is obtained through a sharing of values and beliefs, along with a sense of loyalty and respect for other members of the group. Kymlicka (1995), author of The Ties that Bind, writes about polyethnicity, remaining proud of one's cultural background and at the same time, patriotic to their present country. Kymlick speaks about social unity when addressing the issue of inclusion. He believes that shared values are not enough to sustain social unity and the community should be built on a shared identity. Kymlicka states, " People decide who they want to share a country with by asking who they identify with, who they feel solidarity with"(pg.188). I disagree with losing and assimilating one's identity. It is important for members of a community to get involved in local community projects so they meet people who have perspectives different from their ...
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