This study is a mixed methods exploration of how power and empowerment are measured,
both in the context of international development,
and more generally in efforts to support individuals, groups, and communities.

Part One

Part One focuses on learning from and with those who (have) measure(d) power and empowerment. Participants are invited into an ongoing dialogue and reflection about their experiences of measurement.

Suggested reading – sociology of measurement

  • Merry, S. E. (2021). The seductions of quantification. University of Chicago Press.

After an initial interview with the research team, each participant will be invited to a second interview, where they can reflect on the research team’s analysis and interpretation, and share their own reflections and analysis of their first interview and the body of knowledge emerging from all first round interviews. Participants may also elect to join a final focus group, where they can add their interpretations and reflections on interviews conducted and analysis produced to date, as well as the experience of participating in the research overall.

Participants’ reflections on their own contributions, the (anonymized) contributions of other participants, and on the research team’s interpretations provides an opportunity to share in the often uneven power of knowledge production. The research team welcomes further suggestions for ways to distribute the power of academic knowledge production through this research.

Part Two

Part Two focuses on discursive, bibliometric, and psychometric analyses of selected, published approaches to measuring empowerment from the peer reviewed literature.

Suggested reading – sociology of epistemology

  • Abend, G. (2018). The love of neuroscience: A sociological account. Sociological theory 36(1): 88-116.

Part Three

Part Three focuses on discursive analysis of multi-media (multi-epistemic) expressions of and reflections on power and empowerment from a range of marginalized, historically disadvantaged or oppressed groups, including prose, poetry, proverb, diary, and song.

Suggested reading – black feminist and alternative epistemologies/ontologies

    • Collins, P.H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.

    • de Sousa Santos, B. (2018). The end of the cognitive empire: The coming of age of epistemologies of the south. Duke University Press.

    • Dotson, K. (2014). Conceptualizing epistemic oppression. Social Epistemology 28(2): 115-138.

Want to learn more about the theoretical framework of this research, suggest ways the study team can share the power academic knowledge creation,
or share other relevant readings, theories, approaches or suggestions?
Contact Beth Head, Co-Investigator

Ready to join Part One of the study? Sign up here