ABSTRACT

In this chapter, the authors look at specific practices that achieve change, often placed under the umbrella of ‘empowerment’. There is an extensive body of literature that supports the positive impact of community engagement or working from the ground up in change. In the health setting, locally developed interventions are said to ‘foster individual, small group and community empowerment, which contributes to improved individual and collective health status as people gain greater control over their lives’. Clearly power is of central importance to every aspect of everyday community practice. Power/knowledge arises in the course of human interaction to produce the prevailing definitions of ‘truth’, ‘reality’ and ‘normalcy’. In our everyday community practice, one of the changes we are trying to achieve is to increase individual and group knowledge of political systems. This is what Freire might call ‘conscientisation’, the process by which people become aware of the broader structures that shape their options founded on critical pedagogy.