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The Process of Empowerment:
Implications for Theory and Practice

John Lord and Peggy Hutchison

Published in

Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health
12:1, Spring 1993, Pages 5-22.

Both authors were involved in the Empowerment Research Project at the Centre for Research & Education. This ongoing research was partially funded by the Secretary of State, Government of Canada and the Scottish Rite Foundation. This article is based on a series of empowerment studies completed at the Centre. Some of this data has also been published as Lives in Transition: The Process of Personal Empowerment, a monograph which is available from the Centre (73 King St. West, Suite 300, Kitchener, Ont. N2G 1A7).

Process of Empowerment

Lord & Hutchison

The Process of Empowerment:
Implications for Theory and Practice

The concept of empowerment is of increasing interest to researchers, practitioners and citizens concerned about mental health issues. In some respects, empowerment is a new buzzword. As Edelman (1977) has noted in relation to language and the politics of human services, sometimes new language is used to describe the same old practices. Others believe that empowerment language can actually lead to raised awareness (Rappaport, 1986). Regardless, a growing number of people are searching to understand the meaning of empowerment and ways it can be used to change their settings and lives. Empowerment can begin to be understood by examining the concepts of power and powerlessness (Moscovitch and Drover, 1981). Power is defined by the Cornell Empowerment Group as the "capacity of some persons and organizations to produce intended, foreseen and unforeseen effects on others" (Cornell Empowerment Group, 1989, p.2). There are many sources of power. Personality, property/wealth, and influential organizations have been identified by Galbraith (1983) as critical sources of power in the last part of this century. Others have pointed...
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