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Viljen til at frigøre. En undersøgelse af empowerment i praksis

by Wright Nielsen, Tabitha, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
Empowerment is a concept and a method in social work associated with liberation from oppression. Some paradoxes inherent in the concept and method of empowerment, however, lead to questioning the contradiction between freedom and force that is usually framed by “empowerment”. This dissertation investigates how empowerment is created in a concrete language and an integration project directed towards a group of women with refugee and immigrant background. The Project was part of the Equal Program under the European Social Fund. Departing from the paradoxes characterizing empowerment, the principal research questions of the dissertation are: How is empowerment created in the Project? What shall practices of empowerment create? The dissertation demonstrates that empowerment as the will to liberate, cannot be understood as a liberating method. Rather it has to be understood as a form of power aiming to create certain subjects corresponding to the objective of the making of empowerment. In other words, liberation cannot be derived from an essential meaning. The meaning of liberation receives a specific meaning from the institutional context within which it takes place and are being made. Based on the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s concept of power, I employ a perspective of power analysis, within which empowerment is perceived as a productive power, and the subjectivity of the individual is seen as an object of power. Empowerment becomes a way to govern to change and create subjects in accordance with its own objective. The analysis of empowerment hence turns into an investigation of empowerment as a form of productive power, and addresses the question of how empowerment is created, and what it itself creates. The Dissertation shows that the problematization of the women, which is the precondition for empowerment, is principally, based on culture. When the will to liberate is about liberation from a culture, the women are created as deviating from a Swedish norm. Empowerment frames the individual or the group in a specific way, whereby other conditions that can have importance for their situation as a marginalized group are foreclosed. The will to liberate in this way risks becoming an empowerment space that itself sustains the inequality from which it was intended to liberate.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Lunds universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Subjektivation; Social Work; Power; Empowerment; Normalization

ISBN:978-91-89604-42-1

Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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