REVIEW – October 2007

Empowerment: concept analysis


Articles PDF


Empowerment is an English term with multiple meanings that has been in use for decades in various areas including health care. The concept reached Estonian sources only after the year 2000 and the equivalent Estonian term is “võimestamine”. Unfortunately, the essence of the concept is unclear in both Estonian and English literature and it has not yet been unambiguously defined. The aim of the present concept analysis is to clarify, specify and define the essence of the concept “võimestamine” and its reflexive form “võimestumine”. In this paper Walker’s and Avant’s method of concept analysis was used. The studied material included Estonian and English dictionaries, reference books and special literature. The concept analysis revealed that the concept empowerment simultaneously comprises internal change as well as the outward-directed influencing process where the empowerer is being supported in his/her empowering. In the Estonian language it is rational to use separate concepts  for describing either phenomenon. “Võimestamine” is a social process meant to affect persons psychologically with the aim of shaping their attitudes and behaviour so that it would bring about positive changes in coping with their life and gaining control of it. “Võimestamine” presumes that the empowerer (“võimestaja”) has knowledge and skills, and strives for well-being and contentedness to be achieved by people. The reflexive form “võimestumine” is a process of individual development where agents analyse themselves critically, find their personal motivation and potential, make grounded decisions, and change their personal attitudes and behaviour for the purpose of achieving positive changes in coping with life and gaining control of it. “Võimestumine” presumes that the empowerer (“võimestuja”) is willing to change his/her life, strives to achieve personal well-being and contentedness.