Working with communities-of-place: complexities of empowerment
Recent legislative and other policy-related developments seek to enhance local agenda-setting through empowered communities. However, community development is separated from community empowerment, thus implicitly supporting a more uncritical perspective of empowerment processes. In this article we: (1) focus on communities who do not engage; (2) identify in-community sub-groups and differences as the norm rather than exception; (3) recognise the backwards and forwards motion of community development processes; (4) identify the fluidity of in-community interests and powers; and (5) recognise differences between individual and community- level aspirations.We use evidence from a development project which targets communities that do not engage. Based on interviews with the project manager, project officer, and 155 community members, we conclude that: demoting capacity-building betrays an intrinsic and naı¨ve belief in self-fulfilling processes of community empowerment, rather than acknowledgement of complexities; there is a need, therefore, to remain sceptical in order that analyses are sensitive to complexities of empowerment.
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