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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #238 - Read: Marie-Hélène Bacque and Carole Biewener, "Empowerment, an emancipatory practice" (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Wed, 07 May 2014 09:03:48 +0300


The power is not given, it is taken. Therefore, how to encourage the emancipation? ---- The Book of Marie-Hélène Bacque and Carole Biewener explores the contradictions intrinsically linked to notions of empowerment , emancipation and struggle in which activists and professionals working in the social field. ---- The authors will investigate the origin of the concept of empowerment in the radical feminist movement of the 1970s in the United States. The idea is then to oppose the logic of victimization and bourgeois paternalism and aim for individual and collective emancipation leading to a project of social transformation: the "power within" to "power" and the "power on ", both individually and collectively. The book traces the dynamics of self-organization are oppressed, by which U.S. nationals radical movements (radical feminism, Black Power, Community organizing , community psychology...) sought to create frameworks that allow individually and collectively, to affirm their dignity, self-educate, and build collective strength to demand social transformation.

But today the term empowerment is extremely ambivalent. The authors detail we term this notion to its recovery during the 1990s by the United Nations and the World Bank, who made a neoliberal concept by reducing it to its individual dimension. The engagement ideas, determination, accountability and choice have been preserved, but the collective and political dimension which gave them meaning was erased. The book explicitly how the new empowerment now promotes the empowerment of the poor, the individual treatment development (self-enterprise, micro...), the model of individual integration and question the redistribution of resources and the principle of social solidarity. Based on the rationality of actors, neoliberalism address each-e, under the guise of empowerment , an injunction to be an entrepreneur of his own life.

The authors identify the social-liberal policies, "third way" or as the policy of the city in France as an "in-between" as regards the meaning given to empowerment , focusing on the idea of equality of opportunity and participation injunction. If these policies are aimed Search equality opposite inequality, they do not claim emancipation or liberation opposed to domination, exploitation and oppression.

Through this book, we see how what was the order of emancipation has now become an injunction autonomy, and how empowerment is now between recognition and guilt. The word is just beginning to be used in France, while in the United States, where he was born, the radicals refuse to use since neoliberalism has depoliticized and neutralized.

The authors make a (too) quick detour by the popular education movement that developed in France after the Second World War: they describe as "close to some radical visions of empowerment argue later that the United States ". In recent years, it is now under the name of "popular education policy" which can be found in France close to the original idea movements of empowerment. But that the authors do not talk to us... to give her body!

Adeline (AL Paris West)

Marie-Hélène Bacque and Carole Biewener, Empowerment, an emancipatory practice , La Découverte, 2013, 175 pages, 16 euros.
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