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Madine VanderPlaat


Emancipatory Politics, Critical Evaluation And Government Policy


The aspirations of emancipatory or empowerment-based social interventions, such as those inscribed in Health Canada's and the World Health Organization's Ottawa Charter, require a significant reconstruction of traditional evaluation practices. The prevailing response to this need has been the inclusion of "empowering" research techniques in the evaluation activity. The author argues that empowering research techniques cannot, in and of themselves, effectively inform and support the political aspirations of emancipatory intervention, such aspirations instead demand a dramatic shift in the institutional role of evaluation research and the focus of the evaluative gaze. Drawing from elements of Habermas's theory of communicative action, the author outlines the dimensions of a critical approach to evaluation that is more consistent with the principles under-scoring emancipatory intervention. The Treasury Board's guide to program evaluation is used as illustration, to demonstrate the implications of such an approach for conventional evaluation questions.


The Politics And Practice Of Empowerment Evaluation And Social Interventions: Lessons From The Atlantic Community Action Program For Children Regional Evaluation


Empowerment or participatory evaluation has gained significant popularity in the last few years. However, there is considerable variation in the manner in which the terms are used and in the politics that underlie and inform such practices. This article, which reflects upon the authors' collective experience with the Atlantic Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) regional evaluation, argues for empowerment-oriented evaluation strategies informed by emancipatory politics. In particular, the authors examine the implications an emancipatory ethic has for their understanding of the terms participatory, empowerment, and social change within the context of evaluation research.