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Title: An ethnographic study of citizen empowerment practice in a welfare setting.
Author: Whittell, Bridget Diann.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3567 3369
Awarding Body: University of Manchester : University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1997
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Over the past few years the term empowerment has entered the common vocabulary of welfare service provision, especially since the introduction of community care legislation. The aim of this research has been to explore what empowerment means and what happens at practice level for a particular group of people in a specific welfare setting - people using learning disability services. By focusing attention on a group of hitherto relatively powerless welfare service users, this research has sought to identify some of the specific issues and problems involved in translating the rhetoric of empowerment into practice. A qualitative, ethnographic approach was adopted, using participant observation as the primary research method.This thesis has been organised into eight chapters: Chapter One provides an introduction to this research. Chapter Two is a review of the literature relating to empowerment, particularly in the context of welfare service delivery and community care.Chapter Three provides a broad overview of relevant local and national policies, and the specific political,organisational and managerial structure of the learning disability services looked at during fieldwork. Chapter Four gives details of the research methodology and methods used. Chapters Five to Seven embody the principal fieldwork findings that emerged,organised into three broad 'case study' areas. These focus attention on advocacy, in-service training and people's everyday experiences of using services and living in the community. Finally, Chapter Eight summarises and discusses the main findings, including some practical suggestions for moving forward towards making empowerment a reality.A number of issues emerged during fieldwork that highlighted the problems in practice associated with different empowering strategies. As far as advocacy is concerned, there appeared to be little 'bottom-up' control within collective self-advocacy groups who remained reliant upon service provider support. There were also relatively few people involved, either individuallyor collectively. in speaking up for themselves. In service training initiatives were revealed as potentially empowering, especially those involving people using services. However, values based training, specifically intended as empowering, appeared to be less effective. especially for those staff who held entrenched ideas and attitudes. Finally, the everyday experiences of people using services highlighted the problems involved in protecting and empowering 'vulnerable' people; the inextricable links between 'service user' and 'citizen' empowerment; and the variety of mediating factors affecting empowerment practice including the nature of bureaucratic services. wider structural inequalities and interpersonal relationships.Overall, this research highlights the greater ease of talking about empowerment compared to actually putting it into practice. Also, the importance of paying more attention to listening to the views of people using services regarding empowerment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available