What Does The Term Empowerment Mean? Essays
‘Empowerment’ began with the concept of ‘conscientisation’ coined in 1968, by Paulo Freire, a Brazilian academic. Defined as process to which an oppressed person perceives the structural conditions of oppression. Subsequently, through conscientisation, groups are able to take action upon oppressors. In other words, groups and people become critically aware and awareness turns into action.
The term empowerment took its origins from conscientisation in the 70s, with Barbara Bryant Solomon, writing about African-American communities. First used as an ethos for social workers to discourage paternalism, it meant engaging in a set of activities, with the client, that aim to reduce powerlessness, based on membership of a stigmatised group.
1981 saw a psychologist, Julian Rappaport present empowerment as a political theory of power. Personal competency was limitless and the theory placed responsibility at the hands of the people. In other words, you could achieve anything, but it’s on you to achieve it. Even at this early stage, the theory flagged up problems. You still need to be born with prospects of opportunity and resources to take advantage of them and achieve.
Mainstream media took up the term empowerment by the 90s and early 2000s. Empowerment shifted from oppressed groups to the white middle class female, with disposable income. Fashion lines, lack of shaving, not wearing makeup and not listening to men all became…