Engage, participate, empower: modelling power transfer in disadvantaged rural communities

Artur Adam Steiner*, Jane Farmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
373 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores a process meant to empower disadvantaged communities that have not previously engaged in government-instigated civic projects. Drawing on a large exploratory study of an empowerment project in seven Scottish rural communities, findings include that empowering communities should harness community development techniques that use both external actors and sources of support (i.e. exogenous practices), and those that utilise assets from within the community (i.e. endogenous practices).
The paper presents the Engagement-Participation-Empowerment Model showing stages in transferring power from external actors to local communities. The paper highlights that the process of community empowerment starts with engagement and follows with participation – both representing a precondition of community empowerment. The paper indicates that there are limits to which community members are capable of embracing current community empowerment policies and showing that even targeted ‘well-tailored’ community empowerment programmes might fail. Implications of the study for further research and policy are identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-138
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number1
Early online date6 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • community development, community resilience, empowerment, participation, rural development


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