Empowering communities
Empowering communities

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.2 Key elements of community empowerment

So what does Community Empowerment look like in practice?

In contrasting various approaches to community empowerment, Rolfe (2014) argues that any attempt at practical implementation must find a balance between power and responsibility:

On the one hand, many communities have a keen interest in gaining more power over their own destiny (not always for nimby-ish reasons), while on the other hand, there are concerns that governments want to shift responsibilities onto communities as they hollow out public services in a context of austerity.

One way of overcoming this is suggested by Miller et al. (2018) who argue for the use of assets-based approaches which ‘value the resources that exist in the community and build on the strengths and affordances of communities’. They further argue that ‘a strong assets-based approach that emphasises and values the experience of community members is an effective way to empower communities to make positive change’.

Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, community empowerment has come to be regarded as consisting of three key ingredients:

  1. Active citizens: people with the motivation, skills and confidence to speak up for their communities and say what improvements are needed.
  2. Strengthened communities: community groups with the capability and resources to bring people together to work out shared solutions.
  3. Partnership with public bodies: public bodies willing and able to work as partners with local people. (Department of Communities and Local Government, no date.)

In the following section develops this further by looking at four key elements of community empowerment:

  • Third sector involvement
  • Active citizenship
  • Engaging community stakeholders
  • Participatory budgeting

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371