n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die kompleksiteit van bemagtiging

Volume 43, Issue 3_4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


Empowerment as a term displays its core meaning in the term power. It may be interpreted as designating the possession of power or the process of acquiring power. This necessitates reflection on the nature of power as such - with a view to the uniquely human capacity to be engaged in activities of giving form to the potential of nature through the process of cultural development. Archaeologists highlight the ability of human beings to act in their formative cultural activities by employing their free, formative fantasy. Yet, the power of humans is not restricted to (cultural) subject-object relations, since within human society there are also numerous instances where power is exercised in the context of subject-subject relations. Normally a person who has power over other persons is said to occupy a certain office, which grants that person certain competencies. To account for the cultural calling humans have to give positive shape to formations of power, a distinction is introduced between functional and structural forms of empowerment. The former addresses the necessity to educate members of society in order to enable (empower) them to act in diverse ways under the guidance of a principled orientation, while the latter deepens this by emphasising the structural conditions prevailing within divergent societal collectivities. Particular reference is made to what empowerment within the state entails - focused upon the structural principle of the state as a public legal institution.

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