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Empowerment: strengthening process of subjects in spaces of social participation and political democratization

Maria Elisabeth Kleba Agueda Wendausen About the authors

The work is a historical and conceptual approach to the empowerment process, taking it as a relevant element to the understanding of possibilities and limits in the promotion of social and political participation. Empowerment is a multi-level term which is presented as a dynamic process, involving cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects. In this debate, the empowerment process is presented as being related to dimensions of social life in three levels: psychological or individual; group or organizational; and structural or political. Personal empowerment enables the individuals' emancipation, with increasing autonomy and freedom. The group level triggers mutual respect and support among group members, promoting the sense of belonging, fraternal practices and mutuality. Structural empowerment favors engagement, co-responsibility and social participation in the citizenship perspective. However, the separation in levels is a didactic and evaluative resource whose components happen in an interdependent way, which hinders the separation between processes and results. The spaces of political participation constitute structures that mediate empowerment processes, facilitating the overcoming of conflicts and the re-signification of social relations, and enabling the review of roles and senses in the production of daily life.

Community Participation; Power; Policy Making

Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil