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Review of Human Factor Studies

2008 Summer, Volume 14, No. 1, Special Issue

by Phil Bartle, Founder, Community Empowerment Collective

Victoria, British Columbia



Community Empowerment, a special methodology for strengthening communities, starts with the idea that capacity can not be built (social engineering), but the community can be stimulated to develop itself. Community is an institution and part of culture, ideas and actions learned by humans, and therefore different than the humans who do the learning. Work in the field reveals that strength of a community is based on sixteen factors of strength. These are described and shown to belong to the six dimensions of culture, and therefore part of the Human Factor approach which considers the whole person.

[French, German and Spanish versions of this abstract]


As every first year sociology or anthropology student learns, to be human is to have culture (Henslin, 2004). The lifelong process of acquiring culture, enculturation, is a learning process.(1) Culture and its institutions, that is, society, is not composed of humans, but is composed of the thoughts and actions of humans; culture (the very thing which makes us human) is “carried” by humans.

Community is one of humanity’s oldest institutions, and appears to have been around so long as there were humans. Like all social institutions, community can not be seen, felt or heard, but is a social construct, like the model of an atom. A community is not a human being, can not eat, think, judge or play golf, and we should not anthropomorphise it if we want to be accurate in understanding it, and in predicting its actions.(2)

Origins of the Community Empowerment Methodology

The community empowerment methodology did not originate as a scholarly or academic pursuit. It originated in the field as a means to solve a very difficult problem, the social problem of poverty. That means there is not a paper trail of academic publications on the subject. When Einstein wrote his papers at the beginning of the twentieth century, everybody knew the meaning of the elements he described e, m, c and «squared», but it took him to put them together to create a new way of looking at the universe. You may see the elements of community empowerment, and assume this has been said already; it has not.

The Human Factor and Community Empowerment

The human factor approach grew out of a recognition for a need of studying the whole person, including spiritual aspects. The community empowerment methodology depends upon an analysis of human culture as in six dimensions, one of which is the spiritual, including beliefs and worldview. Those dimensions: technological, economic, political, social, values, and worldview, and their roles in empowerment, will be explicated below.

Empowerment and Development

One reason why some readers think this is old stuff is the similarity in sound of community development and community empowerment. Development means getting larger and more complex. Empowerment means becoming stronger. While the two are different by definition, they are intricately interlinked.

Community empowerment differs from community development by not having a colonial origin and orientation, not being limited to rural communities, and being based on a more complex examination of communities, including the six dimensions of culture, and the sixteen elements of community strength.

Development, including the development of a community, is an increase in complexity. It is not only a mere increase in size, such as its population, its area of control, or its wealth. Development more resembles the growth of a plant than the building of a machine. Think of an acorn as it grows. It does not grow into a house-sized acorn; it grows into an oak tree.

As a community becomes stronger, it becomes more empowered. It increases its ability to achieve the things its members want, and develops increased capacity. We can stimulate a community to develop its own capacity; we can not build its capacity.

The community empowerment methodology is based on practical applications of social science. It goes beyond traditional community development, with its rural bias and colonial linkages. It sees a community, like any organism, cultural or biological, as something which gets stronger when it exercises or struggles.

When we give everything to a community, and do everything for it, it becomes, metaphorically speaking, a cultural couch potato. There are appropriate times and places for this charity approach, as after a natural or man made disaster, when the charity given may mean the difference between life and death. If the charity is continued too long, however, it will contribute to dependency which in turn weakens the community and makes it poorer. Too long means more than a few months, not, as many persons in humanitarian agencies assume, a matter of years. Just like the biological organism will atrophy, so the recipients of charity lose their ability to be self reliant.

Main Elements of Community Empowerment

It is built up of eight important principles:

  1. The balance of power (opinion makers and leaders, not merely the demographic majority) must desire the community to become more self reliant and willing to make efforts and sacrifices to become so. (Leaders and opinion makers may be formal and/or informal, officially recognised and/or unrecognized). Without this, the mobiliser would be wasting time and better employed in another community;
  2. An experienced and/or trained agent must be available to intervene to stimulate and guide the community to organize and take action to overcome poverty and become more self reliant. The mobiliser may be one with natural talents and skills, while the training on this web site is aimed at developing and sharpening those skills and talents;
  3. While assistance can be offered, it should not be charity assistance which promotes dependency and weakness, but partnership, assistance and training that promotes self reliance and increased capacity;
  4. Recipient organisations or communities should not be controlled or forced into change, but professionals trained as activists or mobilisers should intervene with stimulation, information and guidance. Social engineering must be avoided. Persuasion and facilitation are needed;
  5. Organisms become stronger by exercising, struggling, and facing adversity. Empowerment methodology incorporates this principle for social organisations. Sports coaches use the slogan, "No pain; no gain." We do not promote pain, but do promote struggle and effort;
  6. Hands on participation, especially in decision making, by the recipients, is essential for their increase in capacity. Decisions can not be made for or on behalf of the community;
  7. A substantial proportion (it varies) of the resources needed for a community project (ie the action) must be provided by the community members themselves;
  8. We need to aim at the participants from the beginning taking full control, exercising full decision making, and accepting full responsibility for the actions which will lead to their increased strength.

See Bartle (2004) for more details of these principles

This is the core set of principles of the empowerment methodology. Each of the six cultural dimensions, and each of the sixteen elements of strength, are invoked in the process of helping a community to strengthen itself, using these main principles.

Elements of Strength

Forty years of work in stimulating communities to make themselves stronger has revealed some sixteen elements of strength.(3) Later investigation demonstrated, as in Weber’s elements of what makes bureaucracies strong,(4) that the same sixteen elements apply to the strength of families and of formal organizations.

The Sixteen Elements of Strength


The proportion of, and degree to which, individuals are ready to sacrifice benefits to themselves for the benefit of the community as a whole (reflected in degrees of generosity, individual humility, communal pride, mutual supportiveness, loyalty, concern, camaraderie, sister/brotherhood). As a community develops more altruism, it develops more capacity. (Where individuals, families or factions are allowed to be greedy and selfish at the expense of the community, this weakens the community).

Common Values:

The degree to which members of the community share values, especially the idea that they belong to a common entity that supersedes the interest of members within it. The more that community members share ─or at least understand and tolerate─ each others values and attitudes, the stronger their community will be. (Racism, prejudice and bigotry weaken a community or organization).

Communal Services:

Human settlements facilities and services (such as roads, markets, potable water, access to education, health services), their upkeep (dependable maintenance and repair), sustainability, and the degree to which all community members have access to them. The more that members have access to needed communal facilities, the greater their empowerment. (In measuring capacity of organizations, this includes office equipment, tools, supplies, access to toilets and other personal staff facilities, working facilities, physical plant).


Within a community, and between itself and outside, communication includes roads, electronic methods (eg telephone, radio, TV, InterNet), printed media (newspapers, magazines, books), networks, mutually understandable languages, literacy and the willingness and ability to communicate (which implies tact, diplomacy, willingness to listen as well as to talk) in general. As a community gets better communication, it gets stronger. (For an organization, this is the communication equipment, methods and practices available to staff). Poor communication means a weak organization or community.


While expressed in individuals, how much confidence is shared among the community as a whole? eg an understanding that the community can achieve what ever it wishes to do. Positive attitudes, willingness, self motivation, enthusiasm, optimism, self-reliant rather than dependency attitudes, willingness to fight for its rights, avoidance of apathy and fatalism, a vision of what is possible. Increased strength includes increased confidence.

Context (Political and Administrative):

A community will be stronger, more able to get stronger and sustain its strength more, the more it exists in an environment that supports that strengthening. This environment includes (1) political (including the values and attitudes of the national leaders, laws and legislation) and (2) administrative (attitudes of civil servants and technicians, as well as Governmental regulations and procedures) elements. The legal environment. When politicians, leaders, technocrats and civil servants, as well as their laws and regulations, take a provision approach, the community is weak, while if they take an enabling approach to the community acting on a self-help basis, the community will be stronger. Communities can be stronger when they exist within a more enabling context.


More than just having or receiving unprocessed information, the strength of the community depends upon the ability to process and analyse that information, the level of awareness, knowledge and wisdom found among key individuals and within the group as a whole. When information is more effective and more useful, not just more in volume, the community will have more strength. (Note that this is related to, but differs from, the communication element listed above).


What is the extent and effectiveness of animation (mobilizing, management training, awareness raising, stimulation) aimed at strengthening the community? Do outside or internal sources of charity increase the level of dependency and weaken the community, or do they challenge the community to act and therefore become stronger? Is the intervention sustainable or does it depend upon decisions by outside donors who have different goals and agendas than the community itself? When a community has more sources of stimulation to develop, it has more strength.


Leaders have power, influence, and the ability to move the community. The more effective its leadership, the more stronger is a community. While this is not the place to argue ideologically between democratic or participatory leadership, in contrast to totalitarian, authoritarian and dictatorial styles, the most effective and sustainable leadership (for strengthening the community, not just strengthening the leaders) is one that operates so as to follow the decisions and desires of the community as a whole, to take an enabling and facilitating role. Leaders must possess skills, willingness, and some charisma. The more effective the leadership, the more capacity has the community or organization. (Lack of good leadership weakens it).


It is not just "what you know," but also "who you know" that can be a source of strength. (As is often joked, not only "know-how," but also "know-who" gets jobs). What is the extent to which community members, especially leaders, know persons (and their agencies or organizations) who can provide useful resources that will strengthen the community as a whole? The useful linkages, potential and realized, that exist within the community and with others outside it. The more effective the network, the stronger the community or organization. (Isolation produces weakness).


The degree to which different members of the community see themselves as each having a role in supporting the whole (in contrast to being a mere collection of separate individuals), including (in the sociological sense) organizational integrity, structure, procedures, decision making processes, effectiveness, division of labour and complementarity of roles and functions. The more organized, or more effectively organized, is a community or organization, the more capacity or strength it has.

Political Power:

The degree to which the community can participate in national and district decision making. Just as individuals have varying power within a community, so communities have varying power and influence within the district and nation. The more political power and influence that a community or organization can exercise, the higher level of capacity it has.


The ability, manifested in individuals, that will contribute to the organization of the community and the ability of it to get things done that it wants to get done, technical skills, management skills, organizational skills, mobilization skills. The more skills (group or individual) that a community or organization can obtain and use, the more empowered is that community or organization.


The degree to which members of the community trust each other, especially their leaders and community servants, which in turn is a reflection of the degree of integrity (honesty, dependability, openness, transparency, trustworthiness) within the community. More trust and dependability within a community reflects its increased capacity. (Dishonesty, corruption, embezzlement and diversion of community resources all contribute to community or organizational weakness).


A shared sense of belonging to a known entity (ie the group composing the community), although every community has divisions or schisms (religious, class, status, income, age, gender, ethnicity, clans), the degree to which community members are willing to tolerate the differences and variations among each other and are willing to cooperate and work together, a sense of a common purpose or vision, shared values. When a community or organization is more unified, it is stronger. (Unity does not mean that everyone is the same, but that everyone tolerates each others' differences, and works for the common good).


The degree to which the community as a whole (in contrast to individuals within it) has control over actual and potential resources , and the production and distribution of scarce and useful goods and services, monetary and non monetary (including donated labour, land, equipment, supplies, knowledge, skills). The more wealthy a community, the stronger it is. (When greedy individuals, families or factions accrue wealth at the expense of the community or the organization as a whole, that weakens the community or organization).

The Six Dimensions of Culture in Community

Above we mentioned that the community empowerment methodology invokes the six dimensions of culture, and applies the five strengthening principles to each of them. Here the dimensions are described in more detail.

The Technological Dimension of Community:

The technological dimension of culture is its capital, its tools and skills, and ways of dealing with the physical environment. It is the interface between humanity and nature.

Remember, it is not the physical tools themselves which make up the technological dimension of culture, but it is the learned ideas and behaviour which allow humans to invent, use, and teach others about tools. Technology is much a cultural dimension as beliefs and patterns of interaction; it is symbolic. Technology is cultural.

This cultural dimension is what the economist may call "real capital" (in contrast to financial capital). It is something valuable that is not produced for direct consumption, but to be used to increase production (therefore more wealth) in the future; investment.

In capacity development, it is one of the sixteen elements of strength that changes (increases) as an organisation or a community becomes stronger. In the war against poverty, technology provides an important set of weapons.

For an individual or a family, technology includes their house, furniture and household facilities, including kitchen appliances and utensils, doors, windows, beds and lamps. Language, which is one of the important features of being human, belongs to the technological dimension (it is a tool). This goes along with communication aids such as radio, telephones, TV, books and typewriters (now computers).

In an organization, technology includes desks, computers, paper, chairs, pens, office space, telephones, washrooms and lunch rooms. Some organizations have specific technology: footballs and uniforms for football clubs, blackboards desks and chalk for schools, alters and pews for churches, guns and billie sticks for police forces, transmitters and microphones for radio stations.

In a community, communal technology includes its facilities such as public latrines and water points, roads, markets, clinics, schools, road signs, parks, community centres, libraries, sports fields. Privately owned community technology may include shops, factories, houses and restaurants.

When a facilitator encourages a community build a latrine or well, new technology is introduced. A well (or latrine) is as much a tool (and an investment) as is a hammer or computer.

In general (ie there are exceptions) technology is perhaps the easiest of the six dimensions for introducing cultural and social change. It is easier to introduce a transistor radio than to introduce a new religious belief, new set of values or a new form of family. Paradoxically, however, introduction of new technology (by invention or borrowing) will lead to changes in all the other five dimensions of the culture.

Remember there are always exceptions; in Amish society, for example, there is a conscious communal decision to resist the introduction of new technology. They rely on the preservation of older technology (no tractors, no automobiles, no radios) such as horse drawn carts and plows, to reinforce their sense of cultural identity.

Those changes are not easily predicted, nor are they always in desired directions. After they happen, they may appear to be logical, even though they are not predicted earlier.

Through human history, technology has changed generally by becoming more complex, more sophisticated, and with a greater control over energy. One form does not immediately replace another (although horse whips have now gone out of fashion after the automobile replaced the horse over a century of change).

Usually changes are accumulative, with older tools and technologies dying out if they become relatively less useful, less efficient and more expensive. In the broad sweep of history, gathering and hunting gave way to agriculture (except in a few small pockets of residual groups). Likewise, agriculture has been giving way to industry. People still practising older less efficient technologies often find themselves marginalized and facing poverty. Where technology is highly advanced (eg in information technology, computers, the internet) it is practised by a very small proportion of the world population. People still practising older less efficient technologies often find themselves marginalized and facing poverty

Technology that might be introduced by mobilizers may belong to medicine (clinics and medicine) and health (clean water, hygiene), school buildings or covered markets in rural areas. There the residents are not usually unaware of them; they simply did not have them, before mobilizing to obtain them. The facilitator must be prepared to understand the effects on other dimensions of culture by the introduction of a change in the technological dimension.

The Economic Dimension of Community:

The economic dimension of community is its various ways and means of production and allocation of scarce and useful goods and services (wealth), whether that is through gift giving, obligations, barter, market trade, or state allocations.

It is not the physical items like cash which make up the economic dimension of culture, but the ideas and behaviour which give value to cash (and other items) by humans who have created the economic systems they use. Wealth is not merely money, just as poverty is not merely the absence of money.

Wealth is among the sixteen elements of community strength or organisational capacity. When the organisation or community has more wealth (that it can control as an organisation or community) then it has more power and more ability to achieve the things it wants to achieve.

Over the broad course of human history, the general trend in economic change has been from simple to more complex. One system did not immediately replace another, but new systems were added, and less useful ones slowly died out.

In simple small groups, wealth (anything that was scarce and useful) was distributed by simple family obligations. When someone came home with some food or clothing, it was allocated to the other members of the family with no expectations of immediate returns.

As society become more complex, and different groups came into contact with each other, simple trade through various forms of barter were acquired. Distribution within each family group remained more or less the same. As barter became more complex and extensive, new institutions were added to simplify the accounting: currency, accounts, banks, credit, credit cards, debit cards. This did not immediately remove earlier forms, but gift giving and family distribution eventually became relatively smaller among the wide range of distribution systems, and barter became less important.

Remember that currency (cash, money) itself has no intrinsic value. It has value only because society ─ the community; the culture ─ has ascribed some value to it. A hundred euro bill, for example, may be used to start a fire or to wrap tobacco into a cigarette, but its face value is worth much more than for those.

In any community, we will find various forms of wealth distribution. It is important for the community mobiliser to learn what they are, and what things can be given, what exchanged and what bought and sold. In many societies some kinds of wealth may not be allocated by purchase, such as sexual favours, spouses, hospitality, children, entertainment. It varies. Learning how they are distributed and under what conditions and between whom (because these differ) is part of the research the mobiliser needs to do.

When a community decides to allocate water on the basis of a flat rate for all residences, or to allocate it on the basis of a payment for each container of water when it is collected, then a choice is being made between two very different systems of economic distribution.

The animator should encourage the community to choose what it wants so as to be more consistent with prevailing values and attitudes. (A good mobilizer will not try to impose her or his notion of what would be the best system of distribution; the community members, all of them, must come to a consensus decision).

The Political Dimension of Community:

The political dimension of community is its various ways and means of allocating power, influence and decision making. It is not the same as ideology, which belongs to the values dimension. It includes, but is not limited to, types of governments and management systems. It also includes how people in small bands or informal groups make decisions when they do not have a recognized leader.

Political power is among the sixteen elements of community power or organizational capacity. The more political power and influence it has, the more it can do the things it desires.

An animator must be able to identify the different types of leaders in a community. Some may have traditional or bureaucratic authority; others may have charismatic personal qualities. When working with a community, the animator must be able to help develop the existing power and decision making system to promote community unity and group decision making that benefits the whole community, not just vested interests.

In the broad sweep of human history, leadership (power and influence) at first was diffuse, temporary and minimal. In a small band of gatherers and hunters, a leader might be anyone who suggested and organized a hunt. In small bands, there were no chiefs, elders or kings, and these groups are named by anthropologists as "acephalous" (headless).

As history progresses, political systems become more complex, and power and influence increased and affected larger numbers of people. Levels of political sophistication, and hierarchy, ranged from acephalous, band, tribe, through kingdom to nation state.

In the simplest band, there is very little difference between the amount of power and influence of the leader and the lowest member of the band. Compare that with the difference in amount of power and influence of the President of the USA and some janitor cleaning toilets in a Washington slum hotel.

Communities, including the ones where you work, all have some political system, and some distance between the most and least levels of power between individuals and groups. It is the first task of the mobiliser to understand how it works, how power and influence are distributed (not always the same way) and what changes are occurring.

The mobiliser will have some influence on that power arrangement as s/he stimulates the formation of a development committee. And s/he will be responsible for encouraging an increase of political complexity if that is the first such committee in that community.

The Institutional Dimension of Community:

The social or institutional dimension of community is composed of the ways people act, interact between each other, react, and expect each other to act and interact. It includes such institutions as marriage or friendship, roles such as mother or police officer, status or class, and other patterns of human behaviour.

The institutional dimension of society is what many non sociologists first think about when they hear "sociology." It is only one of six dimensions of social organisation (culture), however.

The dimension has to do with how people act in relation to each other, their expectations, their assumptions, their judgements, their predictions, their responses and their reactions. It looks at patterns of relationships sometimes identified as roles and status, and the formation of groups and institutions that derive from those patterns.

A "mother-in-law," for example, is both a role (with a status) and an institution. In a community, the social organization of the community is the sum total of all those interrelationships and patterns.

The level of organization (or organizational complexity), the degree of division of labour, the extent of division of roles and functions, is another of the sixteen elements of community strength or organizational capacity. The more organized, and the more effectively organized, it is (and the mobilizer can help it to become more so), the more capacity it has to achieve its communal or organizational objectives.

As with the other dimensions, over history, the general movement has been from simple to complex. In early simple societies, the family was the community, and was the society. The family defined all roles and status. As societies became more complex, first the families became more complex, then new non-familial relationships developed and were recognized. Later the family itself declined in relative importance among all the many other kinds of relationships.

Every time a new role is created, with its duties, responsibilities, rights, and expected behaviour patterns, then the society becomes more complex. If s/he encourages the formation of a new development committee, with its official positions and membership, then the community has become that much more complex.

A small rural community with no clinic or school is very likely composed of residents who are all related to each other through descent and/or marriage. If you stimulate that community to build a school or clinic, with paid teachers or health workers (usually outsiders), then s/he is increasing the social complexity of that community.

In that sense, perhaps the social dimension is similar to the technological dimension in being less difficult (than the other dimensions, especially the last two) in introducing social change. As with all six dimensions, a change in one such as the social dimension will have effects in each of the other five dimensions.

For the animator to be successful, she or he must know what are the local institutions, what different roles are played by men and women, and what are the main forms of social interaction.

The Aesthetic-Values Dimension of Community:

The aesthetic-value dimension of community is the structure of ideas, sometimes paradoxical, inconsistent, or contradictory, that people have about good and bad, about beautiful and ugly, and about right and wrong, which are the justifications that people cite to explain their actions.

The three axes along which people make judgements are all dependent upon what they learn from childhood. These include judging between right and wrong, between good and bad, and between beautiful and ugly, all based upon social and community values.

They are not acquired through our genes, but through our socialization. That implies that they can be relearned; that we could change our judgements. Values, however, are incredibly difficult to change in a community, especially if residents perceive that an attempt is being made to change them. They do change, as community standards evolve, but that change can not be rushed or guided through outside influence or conscious manipulation.

Shared community standards are important in community and personal identity; who one is very much is a matter of what values one believes in. The degree to which community or organizational members share values, and/or respect each others' values, is an important component among the sixteen elements of strength and capacity.

Values tend to change as the community grows more complex, more heterogeneous, more connected to the world. Changes in values tend to result form changes in technology, changes in social organization, and not by preaching or lecturing for direct changes.

It appears that there is no overall direction of change in human history, that judgements become more liberal, more tolerant, more catholic, more eclectic, – or less – as societies become more complex and sophisticated. Communities at either end of the social complexity spectrum display standards of various degrees of rigidity. In spite of that range, within any community there is usually a narrow range of values among residents. Urban and heterogeneous communities tend to have a wider variation in values and aesthetics.

It is not easy to predict the value standards of any community before s/he goes to live there and to find out how to operate within the community. Because of their importance, however, it is necessary that the mobilizer learns as much as s/he can about community standards, and do not assume that thy will be the same as your own.

While the introduction of new facilities and services in a community may eventually lead to changes in community standards, anything a mobilizer proposes must be seen to be within the prevailing sets of community values. Whenever an animator introduces new ways of doing things in the community, prevailing values, however contradictory and varied, must be considered.

The Beliefs-Conceptual Dimension of Community:

The belief-conceptual dimension of community is another structure of ideas, also sometimes contradictory, that people have about the nature of the universe, the world around them, their role in it, cause and effect, and the nature of time, matter, and behaviour.

This dimension is sometimes thought to be the religion of the people. It is a wider category, and also includes atheistic beliefs, for example, that man created God in his own image. It includes shared beliefs in how this universe came to be, how it operates, and what is reality. It is religion – and more.

When the mobilizer drops a pencil onto the floor, s/he demonstrates her/his belief in gravity. When s/he says the sun comes up in the morning (it does not; the earth turns) s/he express a now defunct world view.

If the mobilizer is seen to be some one who is attacking the beliefs of the people, s/he will find his/her work hindered, opposition to him/her and his/her goals, and failure as a mobilizer. Whether or not the mobilizer wants to oppose local beliefs, s/he must be seen to be not wanting to change them.

In the broad sweep of human existence, the general trend of change has been for a decrease in the number of deities, and a reduction from sacred-profane differences in space to secular space. From local polytheism with many gods, humans moved to a polytheism with fewer gods, from that humans moved to monotheism (one god) and from there an increase in the proportion of people who believe in no god.

In humankind experience, it appears that those groups with local traditional gods tend to be more tolerant of other gods than are the so-called "universal" religions which each say they alone have the true answer. Huge wars have been fought over religions (an irony in that most religions call for peace and tolerance), and this should be a warning to the mobilizer about the extent to which people fervently hold their beliefs.

The animator must learn, study and be aware of what the prevailing beliefs are in the community. To be an effective catalyst of social change, the animator must make suggestions and promote actions which do not offend those prevailing beliefs, and which are consistent with, or at least appropriate to, existing beliefs and concepts of how the universe works.

The Human Factor and Community Strength

Among the various advantages of taking the Human Factor approach to understanding society and culture, is that the approach looks at the whole person, including spiritual as well as technological, economic, political, social and evaluative characteristics.

This, in turn supports the use of six cultural dimensions in the research and analysis of society and culture. The six dimensions include: technological, economic, political, institutional, and ideological and worldview dimensions. The six dimensions are useful in organizing ethnographic material, teaching about the nature of culture, and developing research strategies. (5)

Community development and community empowerment, which belong to the field of applied sociology, can not be successful without the Human Factor. A community is a social institution, part of culture, and consists of the ideas and behaviour of human beings. For it to develop and become stronger, it must be done in the context of human beings which constitute the community. As the Human Factor looks at the whole person, so community empowerment must look at the whole community.

Le factor humain et le renforcement des communautés

Phil Bartle, Fondateur, Community Empowerment Collective
Victoria, British Columbia


Community Empowerment, une méthodologie pour renforcer le communautés, part de l’idée que la capacité ne peut pas être construite dans une communauté (par l’ingénierie sociale), mais qu’une communauté peut être stimulée à se développer par elle-même. La communauté est une institution et fait parti de la culture, des idées et des actions appris par les humains, et c’est pourquoi elle est différente des humains qui l’ont appris. Le travail sur le terrain indique que la force d’une communauté est basée sur seize facteurs de force. Ils sont décrits et il est démontré qu’ils appartiennent aux six dimensions de la culture, et par conséquence font parti de l’approche du facteur humain qui considère la personne entière. (Johanne Lemaire)

Der ganzheitliche Ansatz „menschlicher Faktor“ in der Stärkung der Gemeinschaft

Phil Bartle. Gründer des „Community Empowerment Collective“
Victoria, British Columbia


Community Empowerment, eine spezielle Methode zur Stärkung der Gemeinschaft, beginnt mit der Idee, daß man Kapazität nicht herstellen kann (etwa durch Social Engineering), sondern daß die Gemeinschaft angeregt werden kann, um sich selbst zu entwickeln. Die Gemeinschaft als Institution besteht aus Kultur, Ideen und Handlungen, die von Menschen gelernt werden, und deshalb ist sie verschieden von den Menschen, die sie lernen. Feldforschung zeig, daß die Stärke einer Gemeinschaft auf sechzehn Stärkefaktoren baut. Diese Faktoren werden beschrieben und es wird gezeigt, daß sie zu den sechs Dimensionen von Kultur gehören; somit auch teil des ganzheitlichen Ansatzes „menschlicher Faktor“ sind. (Johanne Lemaire)

Factor humano y potenciación comunitaria

Phil Bartle, Fundador del Colectivo de Potenciación Comunitaria
Victoria, Columbia Británica


La Potenciación Comunitaria, una metodología especial para fortalecer comunidades, parte de la idea de que la capacidad no se crea (ingeniería social), sino que puede estimularse a la comunidad para que se desarrolle a sí misma. La comunidad es una institución y forma parte de la cultura, ideas y acciones aprendidas por los humanos, y por tanto es diferente de los humanos que aprenden. El trabajo sobre el terreno revela que la fuerza de una comunidad se basa en dieciséis factores de fortaleza, que describiremos y demostraremos que pertenecen a las seis dimensiones de la cultura, lo que los hace parte del enfoque de «Factor humano» que considera la persona al completo. (Lourdes Sada)


1. Enculturation and socialization are described in the community empowerment web site.

See: ../modules/edu-int.htm

2. This is called the Sociological Perspective.

See: ../modules/per-int.htm.

3. The sixteen elements of strength are described in the Community Empowerment Web Site.

See: ../modules/mea-int.htm.

4 Weber’s major contributions, including on bureaucracy, are listed on the community empowerment web site.

See: ../modules/cla-webr.htm.

5. The six dimensions are described on the community empowerment web site.

See: ../modules/dim-int.htm

References Cited

Bartle, Phil, 2005, The Sociology of Communities, an introduction. Camosun College, Victoria,

Henslin, James M., Dan Glenday, Ann Duffy and Norene Pupo. 2004. Sociology: A Down–to–Earth Approach, Third Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson

Weber, Max, 1946, From Max Weber; Essays in Sociology. (H Gerth & C. Wright Mills, trans and ed), New York, Oxford


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