An exploratory study on empowering the oppressed by social action

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An exploratory study on empowering the oppressed by social action

 

Author: Cheng, Chung-man
Title: An exploratory study on empowering the oppressed by social action
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1997
Subject: Community development -- China -- Hong Kong
Power (Social sciences)
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Pages: iii, 96, [9] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1403366
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3448
Abstract: In Hong Kong, the concept of empowerment has been associated with community services. Social action is a major working approach for empowering the oppressed people and aims at facilitating them to gain power over their environment. However, subjective interpretation on the process of empowerment and changes is seldom explored. Thus, it is worthwhile for us to understand the subjective experience of participant in social action. The focus of dissertation is to depict participants perception on the process of empowerment. In particular, it examines the subjective interpretation of the participants on how they perceive individual and collective changes in social action. The researcher employs a qualitative methodology with in-depth interviews for the study. Issue of Clearance of Tsuen Wan Rooftop Dwellings is selected for the study. Eight participants agreed to participate in the study. Among the eight participants, seven participants perceived a process of empowerment when they participated in social action. They perceived the process in three identical stages, era of entry, era of incorporation and era of commitment. Apart from these, they also recognized individual and collective changes in the process of empowerment. At the individual level, the empowered participant developed critical awareness and different practical skills for gaining power. These practical skills include negotiation skills, presentation skills and public speech, cultivation of individual and collective resources and organizational skills. Another change was that a positive sense of self competence was developed for moving them from powerlessness to gain power over their environment. Last but not the least, they continued to participate in social action for an equal and just society. They believed that their continuous participation would contribute a fundamental social change. Besides, they also recognized collective change in the process of empowerment. There was a change of power relationship. The participants gained power in the process of social action to influence on policy. The gain was the change of the policy of resettlement. Moreover, the participants were resettled at last. Apart from positive case presentation, a negative case is also presented in this study. Ming, the only participant who did not perceive any positive change in the process of social action. Moreover, he did not perceive any positive individual nor collective changes in the process. His perception could be explained by his different personal background as well as his inactive involvement in social action. The case of Ming reminds us that participation in social action does not necessary result in empowerment. "Active involvement" and "duration of participation" is then critical for empowerment and the commitment in social justice is critical for the participant to perceive the process of empowerment in social action. Based on the findings, the researcher draws some implications for community work practice and recommend further study on actual practice of organizing social action for powerless groups.

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