Measuring community empowerment: a fresh look at organizational domains. Academic Article uri icon


  • In 1986, the Ottawa Charter identified community empowerment as being a central theme of health promotion discourse. Community empowerment became a topical issue in the health promotion literature soon afterwards, though its roots also come from earlier literature in community psychology, community organizing and liberation education. Subsequent international conferences to address health promotion in Sundsvall, Adelaide and Jakarta have acted to reinforce this concept. It is as relevant today as it was more than a decade ago. The literature surrounding health promotion has since moved onto other overlapping theoretical perspectives, such as community capacity and social capital. And yet the critical issue of making community empowerment operational in a programme context remains thorny and elusive. Community empowerment is still difficult to measure and implement as a part of health promotion. This article offers a fresh look at key theoretical and practical questions in regard to the measurement of community empowerment. The theoretical questions help to unpack community empowerment in an attempt to clarify how the application of this concept can be best approached. The practical questions address the basic design characteristics for methodologies to measure community empowerment within the context of international health promotion programming. The purpose of this article is to allow researchers and practitioners to address again the important issue of making community empowerment operational.

publication date

  • June 2001