Motivation, Empowerment, and Cognitive Style in a Community of Practice
Social work and Participatory GIS researchers have focused on the social empowerment of disadvantaged groups while neglecting psychological aspects of empowerment. Social empowerment generally refers to an increase in political or economic power for the disadvantaged. Psychological empowerment generally refers to internal , motivational processes. Community development projects must often balance the two, and the diverse needs, interests, and ideologies of practitioners and participants. It is proposed that two psychological theories can explain how psychological empowerment occurs and varies. These theories are the Empathiser-Sytemiser theory of cognitive style (Baron-Cohen et al., 2005), and Self-Determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000). The links between these theories and the implications for empowerment are explored through a case study of a community gardening group and community mapping in Wellington, New Zealand. The thesis argues that empowerment-oriented efforts are especially valuable during economic decline and transition.