William Boyce


Evaluating Participation in Community Programs: An Empowerment Paradigm


This article introduces the paradigm of empowerment as being more appropriate for evaluation of community participation than the paradigm of efficiency. A variety of critical theories have been proposed as an expression of the empowerment paradigm. These theories, when applied to community evaluation problems, assume that there is conflict and unequal distribution of power between community groups. This unequal power is reflected in groups' different abilities to make independent choices to meet their needs. Evaluation under the empowerment paradigm focuses on determining whether program reforms alter power relations between groups. An evaluation model for community participation in health promotion programs is presented as an illustration of the empowerment paradigm.