GROWING MORE THAN FOOD:
URBAN AGRICULTURE AND EMPOWERMENT
KATIE JEAN OVIATT B.A., University of Nebraska, 2004 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2010
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Health and Behavioral Sciences Program
KATIE JEAN OVIATT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by
Katie Jean Oviatt has been approved for the Health and Behavioral Sciences Program
Deborah Main, Chair John Brett, Advisor Jean Scandlyn Jill Litt
May 18, 2019
Oviatt, Katie Jean (Ph.D., Health and Behavioral Sciences) Growing More Than Food: Urban Agriculture and Empowerment Dissertation directed by Professor Emeritus John Brett
This research provides an in-depth, empirical analysis of the relationship between urban agriculture and empowerment to understand more fully the effects that involvement in urban agriculture has on participants. The research was conducted with urban agricultural producers who had participated in a training program on urban agriculture in Quito, Ecuador called AGRUPAR. The research question guiding the project was: How does participation in a training program on urban agriculture facilitate individual and collective empowerment among participants?
To understand this process, Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power was combined with empowerment frameworks. Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power provided a framework for understanding the nature of power and how people are socially situated within a given social context. Empowerment frameworks were used to analyze empowerment in terms of the domains within which it occurred and the forms of power gained at a personal level.
Using a mixed methods design, I administered a survey to 192 participants in the AGRUPAR program, conducted 18 in-depth interviews, and engaged in participant observation over 7 months. Participation in this program on urban agriculture effected broad change in the lives of participants. In addition to learning about organic, agro-ecological production methods and improving their food security, participants also developed a greater sense of self-confidence, pride, and independence. They also make
notable gains in their economic, social, cultural, and symbolic capital, giving them greater power as actors within their communities. This research reveals that the value of urban agriculture is not limited to merely growing food; rather, it can serve as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for participants and their families.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: John Brett
To my amazing husband, who deserves a medal for his patience and support throughout
this process. I am beyond grateful.
And to my dear Samar, without whose help I would never have been able to complete this. Your patience, kindness, and loving heart have been such a gift to my kids. Thank you.
I would first like to thank my committee, Dr. John Brett, Dr. Deborah Main, Dr. Jean Scandlyn, and Dr. Jill Litt for their guidance, insight, and, most of all, patience. This has been a great learning experience, made possible by their willingness to invest their time and share their expertise. A special thanks to Dr. Brett, who has been a truly incredible advisor and mentor over these many years. His infectious enthusiasm, experience, and patience have been the wind in my sails many a time. And to all the incredible faculty in the Health and Behavioral Sciences program, thank you.
I would also like to acknowledge my appreciation for the incredible institutions that made this research possible. First, a big thank you to the Fulbright program in Ecuador. It was a true honor to be a part such an admirable program and was the experience of a lifetime. I would also like to thank the National Science Foundation for their generous support of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) in Sustainable Urban Infrastructure, of which I was a part. The forward-thinking, multidisciplinary program encouraged its fellows to think critically and holistically about the issues of sustainability and serves as a model for education in the future.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to partner with AGRUPAR and CONQUITO. The work they are doing to promote urban agriculture and lift up communities is truly incredible, and it was an honor to work with them. A special thanks to the tecnicos who so patiently and kindly let this gringa tag along. Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the participants of AGRUPAR who made this research possible. Your warm welcome, inspiring stories, and selfless giving of your time made fieldwork a genuinely wonderful experience.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND..............................................1
Background: Urban Agriculture & AGRUPAR...................................2
Preliminary Research & Project Scope......................................4
II. LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORY............................................9
Research on Urban Agriculture.........................................11
Individual & Social Benefits of Urban Agriculture.....................13
Empowerment & Development................................................21
Critical View of Empowerment..........................................25
Empowerment: Application in Research..................................27
Agriculture & Empowerment.............................................32
Urban Agriculture & Empowerment.......................................40
Theoretical & Conceptual Background......................................43
Bourdieu's Theory of Practice.........................................53
Power & Empowerment: Combining Bourdieu and Rowlands..................64
III. RESEARCH DESIGN.......................................................66
Research Question & Conceptual Framework.................................66
Domains of Change............................................................106
Bourdieu & Power.............................................................195
Rowlands: Gains in Power..................................................238
Interactions: Capital & Power.............................................257
Empowerment in AGRUPAR....................................................264
The Role of AGRUPAR.....................................................270
Urban Agriculture & Gender..............................................276
Appendix A. Survey........................................................308
Appendix B. Participant Interview Guide...................................319
Appendix C. Tecnico Interview Guide....................................324
Appendix D. Management Interview Guide.................................325
Appendix E. Concepts and Methods.......................................327
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Sample Garden Characteristics...............................................75
Table 2: Interviewee Sample Selection................................................80
Table 3: Interviewee Sample Characteristics..........................................81
Table 4: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 1.........................................85
Table 5: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 2.........................................86
Table 6: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 3.........................................86
Table 7: Sample Demography Summary With Charts.......................................105
Table 8: Sellers' Profile with Charts................................................121
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Research Process.........................................................70
Figure 2: Green house nestled in among buildings...................................92
Figure 3: Container garden on patio overlooking Quito..............................93
Figure 4: School garden surrounded by neighborhood.................................93
Figure 5: Training on how to make compost..........................................96
Figure 6: Buyers and sellers at bioferia...........................................102
Figure 7: Chart of Monthly Earnings from Sales.....................................118
Figure 8: Chart of Monthly Savings.................................................119
Figure 9: Chart of Earnings by Gender..............................................123
Figure 10: Chart of Earnings by Certification......................................124
Figure 11: Chart of Earnings by Gender & Certification.............................125
Figure 12: Chart of Earnings by Sales Location.....................................126
Figure 13: Chart of Earnings by Sales Location & Gender............................126
Figure 14: Chart of Perceived Increase in Earnings.................................129
Figure 15: Chart of Women's Increase in Household Influence........................156
Figure 16: Chart of Confidence in Opinions.........................................166
Figure 17: Chart of Confidence in Public Speaking..................................167
Figure 18: Chart of Confidence in Themselves.......................................167
Figure 19: Chart of Challenges.....................................................173
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
AGRUPAR Agricultura Urbana Participativa (Participatory Urban Agriculture)
DAWN Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
GAD Gender and Development
IDRC International Development Research Centre
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
SDG Sustainable Development Goals
UN United Nations
WEAI Womenâ€™s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
WID Women in Development
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Although research has improved our understanding of the potential benefits of urban agriculture, most has had a decidedly economic and environmental-centered perspective, with significantly less attention given to attendant social and behavioral factors. To broaden the scope of research on urban agriculture and shed light on some of the social and behavioral dimensions related to its practice, this research explored how participation in a program on urban agriculture facilitated empowerment among participants. Empowerment is regularly identified as an important outcome of urban agriculture and there is anecdotal evidence in the grey literature to support this claim (e.g., Mares & Pena, 2011; Murphy, 1999; RUAF, n.d.; Van Veenhuizen, 2006). In spite of this, little has been done to critically analyze if and how urban agriculture contributes to empowerment.
This research provides an in-depth, empirical analysis of the relationship between urban agriculture and empowerment to understand more fully the effects that involvement in urban agriculture has on participants. The research was conducted with urban agricultural producers who had participated in a training program on urban agriculture in Quito, Ecuador called AGRUPAR. The research question guiding the project was: How does participation in a training program on urban agriculture facilitate individual and collective empowerment among participants? To this end, this research combined Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power with empowerment frameworks to understand how participation in AGRUPARâ€™s program on urban agriculture facilitated empowerment among participants.
Background: Urban Agriculture & AGRUPAR
In 2008, the world experienced a significant demographic transition; the number of people living in cities exceeded those in rural areas (UNFPA, 2007). Concurrent with the rise in urban populations has been an increase in the number of urban poor. Overall, the number of people living in poverty has decreased significantly; between 1993 and 2002, the absolute number of people in poverty declined by 150 million (Ravallion, 2007). However, this reduction was almost entirely among the rural poor. During this same time, the number of urban poor actually grew by 50 million, causing the urban share of poverty to increase from 19% to 24% (Ravallion, 2007). This trend is expected to continue; by 2050, it is estimated that 66% of the population will live in urban areas (UNDP, 2014). As the proportion of people living in urban areas increases, so too will the number of urban poor, making strategies that address the unique needs of the urban poor increasingly more important.
As urban populations continue to increase, developing strategies to strengthen the resiliency of urban households will be a top priority for cities. One strategy that has been advocated is urban agriculture. The potential benefits of urban agriculture are multiple: increased household food security, economic gains through income generation as well as savings on food, use of marginal land, the creation of green space, and less tangible benefits, such as exercise, increased well-being, and community development (Armstrong, 2000; Kingsley, Townsend, & Henderson-Wilson, 2009; Wakefield, Yeudall, Taron, Reynolds, & Skinner, 2007). Although urban agriculture has historically not received much support from city governments (D. Maxwell & Zziwa, 1992; Mbiba, 1994), research demonstrating the multiple benefits of the practice has led to greater acceptance and
support, and cities throughout the world are incorporating urban agriculture into their city plans and policies (Redwood, 2012). A prime example of this is the work by AGRUPAR, an urban agriculture project in Quito, Ecuador.
Like many developing countries, Ecuador is experiencing a shift from a primarily rural population to mostly urban (Murray, 1997). South America has one of the highest rates of urbanization globally; urban populations are expected to reach 80% by 2020 (Prain, Gonzales, Arce, & Tenorio, 2010). Additionally, it is estimated that approximately half of South Americaâ€™s poor live in urban areas (Fay & Laderchi, 2005). Among South American countries, Ecuador has been a leader in addressing issues of national food security, becoming the first country to include food sovereignty as a part of its constitution (Becker, 2011). Given the dual challenges of urbanization and poverty facing the country, and the countryâ€™s commitment to food sovereignty, it is not surprising that Quito is home to a well-developed program on urban agriculture.
The urban agriculture project, AGRUPAR, is one of the city of Quitoâ€™s crown jewels. AGRUPAR (Agricultura Urbana Participativa: Participatory Urban Agriculture) is a municipal program that provides training and extension services for urban agricultural producers throughout the city. Participants in the program go through an extensive ten-month training program, learning organic, agro-ecological gardening principles and methods. Other activities and services include constructing greenhouses, installing drip irrigation systems, providing microcredit options, assisting with organic certification, helping producers gain access to food processing services and markets, and providing ongoing extension services, such as free seeds and bi-monthly check-ins by staff
agronomists. The program supports the entire chain of production, from growing crops, to processing and selling produce.
As indicated by their name, a primary goal of the program is participation, social integration, and inclusiveness. According to the project director, the purpose of AGRUPAR is to enable local communities to participate in and take control of their own development through urban agriculture; it is participant driven, based on local needs, capabilities, and socioeconomic conditions (Rodriguez, personal communication, 2015). The cityâ€™s role is to create a space for participation and provide resources that enable communities to generate change from within. They engage with producers to understand the barriers they face and to identify their needs. They also work to improve communication between producers and other local groups, such as politicians, food processors, and vendors. The program emphasizes sustainability and trains producers in ecological growing methods. In addition to encouraging environmentally friendly production and the recycling of urban organic wastes, organic production offers an opportunity for urban agricultural producers to access a niche in the local market where competition may be limited. This approach also intends to foster an identity among participants so that they see themselves as active actors in contributing to the environmental and social wellbeing of their city (Rodriguez, personal communication, 2015).
Preliminary Research & Project Scope
In the summer of 2013,1 traveled to Quito to conduct preliminary research on the program and determine if there were potential research opportunities. During this time I toured several garden sites and conducted informal interviews with AGRUPAR employees, affiliates, and participants. Through discussions with employees and participants, I learned
that AGRUPAR had significant economic benefits for participants. A primary outcome of AGRUPARâ€™s program is that participants experience an increase in their income; on average, participants earned about $55 of extra income a month. Furthermore, by consuming their own produce, families saved approximately $67 on food purchases. By both increasing their monthly income and saving money on food, families experience roughly a $122 increase in earnings, a significant economic benefit for the low-income participants that AGRUPAR targets (CONQUITO, 2011). These outcomes support findings in the literature indicating that urban agriculture can have significant economic benefits.
While economic benefits were certainly mentioned by participants, and are a central topic in the literature, an important outcome of my preliminary research was the realization that economic gains were merely one of a number of changes that participants experienced and valued. They repeatedly discussed how participation in the program had increased their self-esteem, how it had changed their relationship with their spouse, and how they had a new role in their community. In addition to these life changes, several participants raised concerns about macro-level food system issues, such as GMO use and corporate control of the food system, and voiced significant concern over these issues. These preliminary discussions demonstrated that while AGRUPAR focuses on economic development and on teaching people how to grow food in the city, it also seemed to have significant ramifications beyond these concrete outcomes; it changed participantsâ€™ sense of self, their relationship with others, and their understanding of the world around them. Although these changes were clearly valuable and meaningful to participants, they lie outside the purview of most research on urban agriculture.
As urban agriculture increases in popularity, it is important to understand how participants are affected by their engagement in it and its potential as a source of empowerment. Empowerment is anecdotally associated with urban agriculture; an internet search for "urban agriculture and empowermentâ€ yields a considerable number of results, primarily of organizations claiming that they are empowering individuals and communities through urban agriculture. Likewise, empowerment is often cited as an outcome of urban agriculture (Mares & Pena, 2011; Murphy, 1999; RUAF, n.d.; Van Veenhuizen, 2006). Despite these frequent references to urban agriculture and empowerment, formal research on the subject is extremely limited. Furthermore, while research on urban agriculture has been plentiful, Battersby and Marshak (2013) argue that research in the global north and global south have taken different trajectories. Urban agriculture research in the global north has emphasized its social and communal benefits, while research on urban agriculture in the global south has focused on "tangible challengesâ€ such as poverty and food security (pg. 448). Similarly, Slater, in her ethnographic work on urban agriculture in South Africa, says that the vast majority of research has emphasized its economic, health, and environmental characteristics, resulting in a representation that is "narrowly defined, economistic and utilitarian in its approachâ€ (2001, p.636).
This dearth of in-depth, focused research on the social facets of urban agriculture in the global south is problematic because framing urban agriculture primarily in terms of utility, i.e., food security and economic benefits, presents an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of the practice. As Slater argues, a focus on the quantifiable "economistic and utilitarianâ€ aspects of urban agriculture "is inadequate in explaining many peopleâ€™s
(especially womenâ€™s) experiences of urban agricultureâ€ (2001, p. 636). This sentiment is consistent with the findings from my preliminary research, which suggested that many of the things participants value lie outside the traditional scope of research. Further, considering the frequency with which organizations involved in urban agriculture cite empowerment as an important outcome of their work, more research is needed to rigorously explore the relationship between participation in urban agriculture and empowerment, especially in the context of the global south.
While the personal and social changes experienced by participants may be peripheral to the primary focus of AGRUPAR specifically, and of urban agriculture more generally, that does not mean they are inconsequential. Rather, if considered in light of the research done on empowerment in development, such changes may signify important shifts in consciousness and identity that enable people to reimagine their social world and potentially challenge existing power relations (Pettit, 2012). Empowerment scholars argue that such changes in awareness and sense of agency are an important part of development, both inherently, in that people increase their capacity and agency, as well as instrumentally, as such changes have been associated with improved development outcomes (Kabeer, 1999).
To explore these attendant outcomes, this research drew from the literature on empowerment in development to examine the relationship between AGRUPARâ€™s urban agriculture program and participant empowerment. The concept of empowerment has gained currency in the field of development by moving the emphasis away from top-down approaches to a focus on local control and participation. Emerging in part out of Paulo Freireâ€™s work on adult education and literacy among Brazilian peasants, as well as feminist
scholarship, empowerment centers on engaging people and developing their understanding of the social and political issues that affect them, thus enabling them to take part in their own development more effectively (Samman & Santos, 2009). An empowerment approach emphasizes autonomy and local decision-making, involving "people as active subjects of their own historyâ€ (Friedmann, 1992, p. vi). Researching the process and form of empowerment is critical for understanding how people participate in and benefit from development and provides insight into how development initiatives can facilitate collective action among communities.
For this research, empowerment is defined as an individual or groupâ€™s process of increasing awareness and building capacity to increase their ability to make choices and take action. To understand this process, I combined Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power with Rowlandâ€™s empowerment frameworks to understand how participation in AGRUPARâ€™s program on urban agriculture facilitated empowerment among participants. Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power provided a framework for understanding the nature of power and how people are socially situated within a given social context. Rowlandâ€™s empowerment framework was used to analyze empowerment in terms of the domains within which it occurred, the factors that encourage or inhibit it, and, most importantly, the forms of power gained.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORY Urban Agriculture
The practice of urban agriculture has a long history and has been a consistent part of urban environments (Slater, 2001). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
(2010) estimates that nearly 15 percent of food is produced in urban areas and that this practice appears to be increasing. Bryld (2003) contends that the increase in urban agriculture can be attributed to deteriorating economic conditions in many developing countries brought about by the structural adjustment programs implemented by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank beginning in the 1970s and growing through the 1980s and 90s. The stated intention of these programs was to spur economic growth and increase income through market liberalization (Scott, 1993). In practice, however, these programs generally failed to realize these goals and often had serious, negative consequences for the poorest populations; with market liberalization, free market prices of food increased the price of staples, resulting in increased food insecurity among the poorest (Bryld, 2003).
Under these conditions, urban populations, particularly the poor, face unique challenges meeting their basic food and nutritional needs. They are dependent on the market for their food and spend a higher share of their income on food; approximately 50-70% of household expenditures of poor families go towards food (Mougeot, 2005). These factors make the urban poor acutely vulnerable to fluctuations in market cost and can exacerbate food insecurity. The 2008-10 food crisis highlighted many of the vulnerabilities in the global food system; international trends sparked rapid increases in the cost of basic
food items leading to hunger and rioting in many countries. In such instances, urban populations have few other food resources to draw upon and can experience higher levels of food insecurity than their rural counterparts (Cohen & Garrett, 2010).
In response to these challenges, many cities have experienced an increase in the number of people practicing urban agriculture. While many definitions of urban agriculture have been developed (K Ackerman, 2011; H. De Zeeuw, Guendel, & Waibel, 2001; Dubbeling & Merzthal, 2006; Mougeot, 2001), it can broadly be considered "the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around citiesâ€ and, more specifically, as production that is "embedded in- and interacting with- the urban ecosystemâ€ (RUAF, n.d.). Urban agriculture is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of production, varying by location (urban vs. peri-urban), scale of production (small, home gardens vs. large-scale farms), motivation (home consumption vs. market oriented), among other things. This diversity is a strength of urban agriculture, enabling it to adapt to unique urban spaces. With this in mind, I acknowledge that the literature on "urban agricultureâ€ covers a spectrum of urban production strategies and situations. Given this diversity, findings from one study cannot be assumed to apply in other contexts (e.g., what is true in the context of community gardens in the US may not be true for home producers in Africa). Furthermore, following Battersby and Marshak (2013), research on urban agriculture has had different foci in the global north and south. I acknowledge this diversity and present the research on urban agriculture generally, specifying when necessary.
In the context of AGRUPAR, the form that urban agriculture takes runs the gamut, from a small container garden on a patio in the cityâ€™s central district to large terraced farms
on the outskirts of the city. There is no "right wayâ€ to practice urban agriculture; rather, part of AGRUPARâ€™s success is that it adapts to the individual needs of its participants and the urban space, accommodating this diversity to engage a wide array of people and encourage urban production. With that said, there are some unifying characteristics among AGRUPARâ€™s producers. First, they all use agro-ecological methods to produce organic products. Second, while the scale of production varies among participants, they are all still engaging in gardening and not commercial farming. Although the distinction between gardening and farming is not settled (Poulsen, Neff, & Winch, 2017), I use the term gardening to describe AGRUPARâ€™s activities, as all of their producers operate at a small-scale, relying on human labor, not mechanization, for planting and harvesting, and because they are growing small batches of diversified products rather than high volumes of single, specialized crops (Laudan, 2017).1 2 Research on Urban Agriculture
Research indicates that urban agriculture can be an effective strategy for addressing the challenge of urban food insecurity, supported by evidence from both the global north and south. Urban agriculture can address urban food insecurity by improving a householdâ€™s access to fresh foods, increasing dietary diversity, and by buffering seasonal fluctuations in food availability (Armstrong, 2000; Balmer etal., 2005; Corrigan, 2011;
1 This differentiation is certainly open to question, but given that my focus is not on developing a typology of urban agriculture, I use these distinctions simply to generally characterize urban agriculture in the context of AGRUPAR.
2 This research aim was initially framed in terms of analyzing the social field and the contextual value of urban agriculture, and, ultimately, how these factors impacted a
Gallaher, Kerr, Njenga, Karanja, & WinklerPrins, 2013; Larsen & Gilliland, 2009; D. Maxwell, Levin, & Csete, 1998; Vail & Shalizi, 2006). Households involved in urban agriculture have better and more diverse diets than households that are not, even when compared with households in higher wealth classes (Zezza & Tasciotti, 2010). Research has found that urban agriculture contributes to increased fruit and vegetable consumption (Alaimo, Packnett, Miles, & Kruger, 2008; Corrigan, 2011; Jill S. Litt et al., 2011; Potutan, Schnitzler, Arnado, Janubas, & Holmer, 2000; Twiss et al., 2003), greater energy and protein intake (Foeken & Mwangi, 2000), and decreased stunting in children (D. Maxwell et al., 1998).
Urban agriculture, especially in the global south, can help address urban poverty by providing economic opportunities to households. Urban agriculture is often one of the largest industries in local informal economies, including not only producers but also ancillary jobs that support local production, e.g., sales in agricultural inputs, processing materials, distribution, and loans to producers (van Veenhuizen, 2006). There are many benefits to producing in an urban environment and urban agricultural producers can actually earn more than rural farmers, up to two or three times as much (Cook, Oviatt,
Main, Kaur, & Brett, 2014; Henk De Zeeuw & Dubbeling, 2009, p. 14). Further, because producers often consume their own produce they reduce the amount of money they spend on food purchases, enabling them to purchase other things (Bellows, Brown, & Smit, 2005; Bryld, 2003; Suarez-Balcazar, Martinez, Cox, & Jayraj, 2006).
Beyond the concerns of food security and economic benefits, urban agriculture has also been examined, in both the north and south, for both its potential environmental benefits (e.g., increased biodiversity, reduction in the urban heat island effect, use of organic waste through composting, and increased environmental knowledge). Potential
issues, like contaminants in urban soil, water, and air, and the inefficient use of resources
and transportation have been researched (Ackerman et al., 2014; Andersson, Barthel, & Ahrne, 2007; Brown & Jameton, 2000; Galluzzi, Eyzaguirre, & Negri, 2010; Nyuk Hien, Puay Yok, & Yu, 2007; Sanye-Mengual, 2015; Wolf & Robbins, 2015).
Individual & Social Benefits of Urban Agriculture
Researchers have also found improvements in individualsâ€™ well-being and sense of self to be associated with urban agriculture. Gardeners report that working with plants and being in their gardens helps to reduce stress and improves their overall sense of wellbeing (Armstrong, 2000; Hawkins, Thirlaway, Backx, & Clayton, 2011; Kaplan, 1973; Teig et ah, 2009; van den Berg, van Winsum-Westra, de Vries, & van Dillen, 2010; Webber, Hinds, & Camic, 2015). Importantly, for my work, researchers have found that many practitioners experience significant transformations in their sense of self. Increased self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and pride have been reported, as well as a greater sense of self-reliance, self-determination, and accomplishment (Bradley & Galt, 2014; Brown & Jameton, 2000; Garrett & Feenstra, 1999; Pudup, 2008; Webber et ah, 2015). These findings are important, as they indicate that urban agriculture can facilitate meaningful shifts in identity, an important aspect of empowerment.
Researchers have also considered the role of urban agriculture as a potential mechanism for social change. As Battersby and Marshak (2013) note, the majority of this research has come from studies in the global north. They trace the seeds of this emphasis back to the Victory Garden movement during the Second World War, where urban gardens were promoted as a way to assist in the war efforts and promoted active citizenship. After the conflict ended and the attendant food shortage was relieved, the emphasis in research
shifted to the social and political aspects of gardening. Indeed, in their review of the literature on urban agriculture (drawn primarily from studies in U.S. cities), Santo, Palmer, and Kim (2016) say that the evidence suggests that "urban agricultureâ€™s most significant benefits center around its ability to increase social capital, community well-being, and civic engagement with the food systemâ€ (Santo et al., 2016, p. 4). While most of this work comes from the northern context, it is relevant to review the potential social effects of urban agriculture.
The transformation of the physical space in a neighborhood is one of the primary ways that urban agriculture can impact a community; urban gardens have been found to beautify neighborhoods, increase home values, and create safe spaces that are less likely to be vandalized (Bradley & Galt, 2014; Ober Allen, Alaimo, Elam, & Perry, 2008; Poulsen et al., 2017; Teig et al., 2009; Voicu & Been, 2008). These new, green spaces have been associated with a reduction in neighborhood crime, which increases residentsâ€™ sense of safety, their pride in their community, and improves a neighborhoodâ€™s reputation (Garvin, Cannuscio, & Branas, 2013; Kondo, Hohl, Han, & Branas, 2016; Kuo & Sullivan, 2001). Urban gardens also provide green spaces in urban areas where access to natural settings and processes are more limited. This exposure to the biophysical systems of a productive landscape and the aesthetic experience of gardening can have positive effects on both the physical and mental health of gardeners (Brown & Jameton, 2000; Hale et al., 2011; WHO, 2016).
These productive urban landscapes can also provide a space for social interaction where community members can interact and socialize in new ways, encouraging community engagement and building social capital (Glover, 2004; Poulsen et al., 2017).
Urban agriculture can facilitate community engagement by helping to bring community members together, creating social spaces, building trust among community members, and fostering local pride (Bradley & Galt, 2014; Ober Allen et al., 2008; Sharp, Imerman, & Peters, 2002; Teig et al., 2009). Research on farmerâ€™s markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) projects found that there were strong relationships between producers and consumers and that they helped people feel more engaged with and a part of the community (Bregendahl & Flora, 2006; Sumner, Mair, & Nelson, 2010). Furthermore, urban agriculture can help increase social capital by developing bonds between community members with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who may not normally interact, such as immigrant communities, older and younger generations, diverse racial or ethnic groups, and different socioeconomic classes (Alaimo, Reischl, & Allen, 2010; Firth, Maye, & Pearson, 2011; Glover, 2004; Kingsley & Townsend, 2006). Gardening is a way for these diverse groups to participate in a common activity and share their knowledge and culture with one another.
Urban agriculture can also help to develop the human capital within communities, i.e., the skills and knowledge of residents (Smit & Bailkey, 2006). Urban gardens, and the projects supporting them, can be opportunities to teach community residents about the food system, environmental stewardship, and healthy life habits (Holland, 2004; Lautenschlager & Smith, 2007; Pudup, 2008). They can also help develop tangible skills, pertaining not only to agricultural production, but also transferable skills, such as customer service, marketing, planning, and interpersonal skills, whose utility extends into other job fields (Beckie & Bogdan, 2010; Pudup, 2008; Vitiello & Wolf-Powers, 2014). Vitiello and Wolf-Powers (2014) argue it is these outcomes, the development of human and social
capital, that are the real economic contributions of urban agriculture as they can stimulate community economic development in ways that are often unrecognized and unmeasured.
Scholars also argue that urban agriculture can play a role in encouraging citizen engagement. Research has found that many urban agriculture projects have motivations beyond just providing a source of food and employment; for many projects there are political and social justice motivations. Food sovereignty, self-determination, self-reliance, and citizen activism have been identified as primary goals in certain urban agriculture projects (Bonacich & Alimahomed-Wilson, 2011; Bradley & Galt, 2014; Colasanti, Litjens, & Hamm, 2010; McClintock, 2014; White, 2010). Additionally, participation in urban agriculture has been found to increase social and environmental awareness. Urban agriculture projects increase peopleâ€™s awareness of issues relating to food systems, the environment, sustainability, and social justice, which encouraged activism and advocacy among residents on issues beyond food production (Bregendahl & Flora, 2006; Kerton & Sinclair, 2010; Levkoe, 2006; Travaline & Hunold, 2010; White, 2010).
Furthermore, some scholars have noted that the coalition building, planning, and advocacy necessary to address the barriers faced by urban agricultural producers, such as overcoming bureaucratic issues of zoning and regulations, encourages active citizenship, community engagement, and fosters democratic values (Glover, Shinew, & Parry, 2005; Mendes, Balmer, Kaethler, & Rhoads, 2008; Sumner et al., 2010; Teig et al., 2009; Travaline & Hunold, 2010; White, 2010). Researchers have also found that urban agriculture, specifically community gardens, can encourage collective efficacy, defined as "the link between mutual trust and a shared expectation to intervene for the common good of the neighborhoodâ€ (Sampson, 2003, p. S58). Community gardening facilitates social
connections, reciprocity, mutual trust, collective decision-making, civic engagement, and community building, all of which can strengthen and improve neighborhoods (Teig et al., 2009). Urban agricultural production, especially in communal settings, has the potential to engender place attachment, which can motivate people to feel greater devotion to their community, become more involved, and be inspired to act to protect or improve their community (Litt, Schmiege, Hale, Buchenau, & Sancar, 2015; Manzo & Perkins, 2006).
The vast majority of the research on the social benefits of urban agriculture has come from the context of the global north, while this aspect of urban agriculture has not received much attention in the global south. The majority of research in this context focuses on tangible outcomes, such as food security and economic benefits, as urban agriculture is typically considered as a tool for development (Battersby & Marshak, 2013). While it is plausible that urban agriculture in the global south has the same benefits as have been found in the north, given the differences in social, economic, political, and cultural contexts, it is likely that the effects of urban agriculture will also differ. This lack of research on the less utilitarian aspects of urban agriculture in the context of the south has been noted by others besides myself and a number of studies looking at this issue have emerged in the past few years.
Battersby and Marshak (2013), who noted the lack of studies on the social aspect of urban agriculture in the global south, did research among urban producers in Cape Town, South Africa to understand the relationship between the economic and social benefits. Partnering with an NGO, which, similar to AGRUPAR, provided training and resources for participants to start their own gardens, the researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with producers, held a focus group with garden members, and engaged in
participant observation. Through their research, they found that the benefits most articulated by producers were by and large social. Their participants discussed the primary individual benefits as being improved health, psychological improvements (sense of purpose, escape from worry, and spiritual connection), and a sense of pride and increased status. Participants also identified communal benefits, such as bringing people together, a collective sense of purpose, working together to start small businesses, and a sense of being a positive presence in the community.
Battersby and Marshak (ibid.) conclude that urban agricultureâ€™s primary value, as identified by participants, was in "its redress of individual and collective social problemsâ€ by helping "to address alienation, to restore positive identity and to build communityâ€ (p. 458). Based on their findings, they argue that understanding urban agricultureâ€™s multifunctionality is important for professionals who research and develop urban agriculture policy and programs, such as academics, policy makers, non-profit workers, and advocates. They claim that many urban agriculture projects are unsuccessful because their framing is too limited, thus failing to understand the motivations and needs of the participants themselves. Their work is important for my own primarily for their articulation of the importance of understanding the myriad benefits of urban agriculture.
Olivier and Heinecken (2017) similarly argue that understanding the benefits of urban agriculture requires a broader scope of research than just the economic and physical health outcomes. Through in-depth interviews and focus groups with participants in local NGO urban agriculture projects in Cape Town, South Africa, their research explores how urban agriculture affects the livelihood of producers, both personally and socially. They found that participation in NGO urban agriculture projects strengthened household bonds
and community networks. It also developed a sense of purpose and well-being among participants. They argue that these changes at the individual, household, and community level all helped to strengthen livelihood strategies.
At an individual level, Olivier and Heinecken (ibid.) found that increased knowledge and skills gained through participation not only opened up new opportunities for participants, but were also a source of pride, with participants eager to share what they learned with others. They also found that participants experienced health benefits, both physically in terms of healthier eating habits, as well as psychologically; participants reported lower levels of anxiety, spiritual peace, as well as a sense of pride and purpose. At an inter-personal level, they found that participation strengthened social capital along three dimensions: bonding capital (the bonds of trust and support between family and friends), bridging capital (the networking among people who do not know each other), and linking capital (connections with those in authority and the capacity to engage explicit power structures, e.g., the government or the private sector). For bonding capital, their participants described how urban agriculture had strengthened their relationships with friends and family; it was a way for people to converse, engage, and develop deeper relationships. Bridging capital was developed primarily through NGO trainings and events, in which neighbors were trained together or where producers came together. Participants reported that bridging capital was very low in their communities; however, through NGO events and trainings, people developed relationships with other cultivators, creating the social networks that sustain urban agriculture in the community. Finally, the study found that the NGOs were critical to the long-term viability of urban agriculture, as they served to link poor communities to public and private actors who could help them sustain and grow
their agricultural enterprises. Participants came from poor communities, lacking access to the resources and expertise that would enable them to engage fruitfully with the key players in urban agriculture, such as government agencies, funders, and potential vendors. The NGOs were able to serve as the go-between, linking producers to the people and resources that would help them be more successful in their urban agriculture projects.
The findings of Olivier and Heinecken (ibid.) show that, for participants, urban agriculture is much more than merely an end towards economic or health improvements; rather, it is a deeply meaningful activity that brings families and communities together. Importantly, the authors argue that these benefits, especially the gains in social capital, improve the quality of life and the livelihoods of people living in impoverished communities more than a simple gain in income or food security could. Olivier and Heineckenâ€™s findings further support the impetus of this research: to investigate the personal and social benefits of urban agriculture.
While these studies do not focus on empowerment per se, research in these areas provides insight into the potentially transformative impacts urban agriculture can have in the personal and social lives of producers. My work builds on this understanding by approaching urban agriculture through the lens of empowerment to explore how participation in urban agriculture facilitates changes at the individual and group level. The use of an empowerment framework is important for two reasons. First, it will provide an analytical framework for understanding changes at the individual and group level and how people are affected by urban agriculture. Secondly, empowerment is often cited as an outcome of urban agriculture, yet the empirical support for this is thin, at best; it has yet to be explored in a conceptually and theoretically rigorous manner. Here I will discuss the
concept of empowerment, including its historical background, how has been utilized in other research areas, and how it has been applied to urban agriculture specifically.
Empowerment & Development
Empowerment is a focal area for many development agencies and is identified as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations (UN, n.d.-a). The increased interest in empowerment coincides with a movement towards a more inclusive and participatory model of development in general; mainstream development actors, including multilateral aid agencies and international NGOs, have attempted to move away from top-down development by emphasizing people-oriented approaches (Parpart, Rai, & Staudt, 2002).
Historically, development has been influenced in large part by the concepts of modernization and Westernization, wherein it was expected that nations would transition from a state of being underdeveloped to developed, following the economic trajectory of the modern West (Sardenberg, 2016). The primary emphasis was on economic growth; it was believed that with aid and assistance, countries would follow the stages of industrial development, as happened in North America and Europe, and poverty levels would decrease (Hettne, 2009). Coming under fire from academics and development practitioners alike, this approach to development was criticized for its focus on macro-level economic indicators and Eurocentric structuring (D. Conway & Heynen, 2002). Amid growing concerns over the effectiveness of growth-centered development strategies, alternative development approaches emerged that emphasized bottom-up strategies that engaged local communities and advocated for non-economic indicators to measure development goals.
The work of Paulo Freire was foundational in this shift in the field of development. Freire worked in adult education and literacy among Brazilian peasants, and was highly critical of what he termed "banking educationâ€ in which students were passive recipients of teachersâ€™ knowledge and the embedded power relations contained therein (Freire, 1970b, p. 72). He believed it was not only important to teach people how to read, but to encourage them to think critically about the social and political issues that affect them. He argued that developing an individualâ€™s awareness of these larger social processes helps them understand the social forces in their lives and enables them to become subjects rather than objects (DasGupta etal., 2006; Freire, 1970a).
From his experiences working in adult education, Freire developed the idea of conscientizapad, which he conceptualizes as "the process in which [students], not as recipients, but as knowing subjects, achieve a deepening awareness both of the sociocultural reality that shapes their lives and of their capacity to transform that realityâ€ (Freire, 1985, p. 93). Importantly, Freire emphasized that people cannot be passive recipients of change, but rather, through praxis, a process of reflection and action, must be actively engaged to address the cultural, social, and historical barriers they face in their communities (Freire, 1985; Wallerstein & Bernstein, 1988). Freireâ€™s work, with its emphasis on deep reflection and engagement, was instrumental in shifting the focus of development towards more bottom-up, participatory approaches in which people play a more active role in their development and provided the foundation upon which the concept of empowerment in development would emerge.
Concurrently, during the 1970s there was a push by both development professionals and liberal feminists for gender equality and a greater acknowledgement and
integration of women into development initiatives. The Women in Development (WID) approach emerged from this, encouraging a more gendered perspective to development (Razavi & Miller, 1995). The WID approach focused on creating "equal opportunities in development for women, by overcoming social and cultural barriers through reform and providing equal access to women in education and trainingâ€ (Sardenberg, 2016, p. 20).
This approach was criticized, however, for not challenging inequitable power relations that put women in a subordinate position to begin with; "[i]t was not the mainstream model of modernization that was under attack, but the fact that women had not benefited from itâ€ (Kabeer, 1994, p. 20). From this criticism emerged the Gender and Development (GAD), which focused on challenging patriarchal power relations to improve womenâ€™s position and power in society (Rowlands, 1997; Sardenberg, 2016; Slater, 2001).
It is within this context of shifting development paradigms (Freire and othersâ€™ calls for more a more inclusive, bottom-up approach to development, as well as the push to incorporate women and gender into development by feminists) that the concept of empowerment in development emerged. The term empowerment first appears in the development context in the mid-1980s, emerging from feminist critiques of development.
A network called DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era), founded by feminist activists, researchers, and policymakers in the global South, released Development, Crises, and Alternative Visions written for DAWN by Gita Sen and Caren Grown
(1988) at the widely attended 2nd World Conference on Women in Nairobi. In this document, DAWN provides an extensive critique of top-down, economic-oriented development models, arguing against the WID approach which claims that the issue is simply that women are insufficiently integrated into development initiatives (Calves,
2009). Rather, they state that development is not possible "without greater equity for, and participation by, womenâ€ (Sen & Grown, 1988, p. 20) and that new approaches to development must grant women "wider control over and access to economic and political powerâ€ (p. 20). The document provides a vision for development based on womenâ€™s empowerment through radical transformation of structures of domination, not only in terms of gender inequality, but of class, race, and other determinants as well (Sardenberg, 2016).
In the years following DAWNâ€™s release of their publication, feminist literature on empowerment in development mushroomed and many of the seminal thinkers emerged, including, but not limited to, Batliwala, Kabeer, and Rowlands. These women developed the conceptual frameworks that still guide most research on empowerment to this day. Initially the concept of empowerment in development was the purview of these feminist scholars; large development organizations and governments considered it too radical (Parpart, 2001). However, through a confluence of events and people, the concept of empowerment in development gained steam and was eventually incorporated by institutional actors. This is due, in no small part, to the efforts of DAWN and other feminist organizations who advocated for a shift towards GAD. At this same time, however, Latin America was experiencing a movement towards increased democratization, which helped to mainstream the concepts of participation and empowerment in development (Luttrell, Quiroz, Scrutton, & Bird, 2009; van Dam, Martinic, & Peter, 1992). Also at this time, the work of Amartya Sen, the Nobel Laureate economist, was gaining in popularity, with development agencies embracing his "capabilities approach,â€ which focused on the freedom of agency, that people have the opportunity to choose among different ways of
being and doing that they see as valuable (Alkire, 2005; Luttrell etal., 2009). Beginning with the United Nationsâ€™ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, in which womenâ€™s empowerment was described as "fundamental for the achievement of equality, development, and peaceâ€ (UN, 1996, p. 3), empowerment became widely accepted within the mainstream development community. By the end of the 1990s, empowerment was described as being something that was "politically correct, and which all international organizations, at least in public communications, cannot afford to do withoutâ€ (Bisilliat, 2000, p. 26 in Calves, 2009). Empowerment has become so institutionalized that by 2005, the World Bank was providing funding for over 1,800 projects mentioning "empowermentâ€ (Alsop, Bertelsen, & Holland, 2006).
Critical View of Empowerment
Although empowerment has become a widely used approach to development, the widespread embrace of empowerment is not unproblematic; it "has become a popular and largely unquestioned â€˜goodâ€™ aspired to by diverse and contradictory institutions representing different political and philosophical ideasâ€ (Ali, 2013, p. 3) which has important implications for how it is used and conceptualized.
A primary concern among critics is that empowerment has simply become a "buzzwordâ€ that has not resulted in meaningful change, but rather perpetuates neoliberal policies and practices that emphasize economic growth and self-improvement and ignores structural causes of disempowerment (Cornwall & Edwards, 2010; Cruikshank, 1999; Luttrell et al., 2009; Sharma, 2008). Chambers and Pettit (2004) argue that empowerment is fundamentally about changing power relations, but that this has not actually happened in practice. While development agencies and actors have adopted empowerment rhetoric, in
reality, they have not fundamentally changed the way they operate. According to Woost, "we are still riding in a top-down vehicle of development whose wheels are greased with a vocabulary of bottom-up discourseâ€ (1997, p. 249).
An additional critique is that as empowerment has been adopted by mainstream development agencies, it has been watered-down and largely de-politicized, divorced from its more progressive roots (Luttrell et al., 2009). The World Bank, for example, defines capabilities (Senâ€™s foundational concept emphasizing agency and freedom) as meaning health and education, with no mention of the concept of freedom or power (Alkire, 2005). Similarly, there has been a shift in the emphasis on empowerment as a process vs. empowerment as an outcome. The process view of empowerment emphasizes that it is a process and is important in and of itself, regardless of development outcomes. This is opposed to the instrumentalist view, which focuses more on how empowerment benefits development efforts and affects outcomes. The instrumentalist view is based on research, primarily on womenâ€™s empowerment, which indicates that there is a positive relationship between many development outcomes and empowerment indicators. For example, womenâ€™s status in both the household and in society has been shown to positively affect a number of different health outcomes, including childrenâ€™s nutritional status, child mortality, and immunization rates (Kishor, 2000; Smith & Haddad, 2000; Thomas, 1997). Kabeer notes that "[ajdvocacy on behalf of women which builds on claimed synergies between feminist goals [of empowerment] and official development priorities has made greater inroads into the mainstream development agenda than advocacy which argues for these goals on intrinsic groundsâ€ (1999, p. 435). While she admits this is logical in a context of limited economic resources, the result is that empowerment loses its "political
edgeâ€ and becomes simply a means for improving outcomes (Cornwall & Brock, 2005; Kabeer, 1999).
Empowerment: Application in Research
Despite these criticisms, the concept of empowerment has been widely accepted within the mainstream development community as part of a shift towards more inclusive and human-centered development. I will first describe how empowerment has been generally researched within the field of development, and then will cover how it has been considered in the specific context of agriculture.
The concept has been most often applied in the context of women in development; the vast majority of studies on empowerment are focused on women living in poverty (Trommlerova, Klasen, & Lessmann, 2015). In their review of empowerment, Malhotra, Schuler, and Boender (2002) and Samman and Santos (2009) provide comprehensive literature reviews that detail how the concept of empowerment has been applied.
Malhotra et al. found that research in empowerment is heavily biased towards Asia, primarily India and Bangladesh, with over half of the studies focused on this area. Africa and Latin America have received much less attention. Samman and Santos (2009) found the same bias and call for more research into empowerment in the context of Latin America (p. 28). This research will help address this bias by contributing to research on empowerment in the context of Latin America.
Both reviews found that research on empowerment is overwhelmingly based on quantitative data, although a few studies in Malhotra et al.â€™s review did combine qualitative and quantitative methods. Samman and Santosâ€™ review finds a similar bias; almost all of the studies in their review are quantitative. Quantitative research on the subject is
incredibly important; having measurable, comparable indicators permits researchers and policy makers to understand the phenomenon and, importantly, track progress. For example, in their discussion on the development of an index to measure empowerment in the context of agriculture, the authors of the Womenâ€™s Empowerment in Agriculture Index report note that "without tools for measuring the impact of agricultural interventions on womenâ€™s empowerment, the impacts of programs on empowerment (or disempowerment) are likely to receive much less attention than income or other more measurable outcomes. Therefore, there is a need for measures of empowerment that are robust, inclusive, and comparable over time and spaceâ€ (Alkire et al., 2012, p. 2).
While quantitative research is necessary and important, the emphasis on it has important implications for how empowerment has been analyzed; such studies (1) tend to use secondary data sources, such as large-scale surveys or national censuses that may not have been designed to measure empowerment and (2) tend to use proxy measures for empowerment (e.g., education and employment) rather than measuring it directly (Malhotra etal., 2002). Furthermore, empowerment is a complex, nuanced, and intimate process of change, and certain aspects of this process are not easily quantifiable. Given the abundance of research on the subject that relies on the quantitative measures, there is a need for in-depth qualitative studies that develop a more contextually specific understanding of empowerment. My work addresses this by utilizing qualitative methods to understand empowerment. The use of qualitative methods provides a nuanced analysis of how power and empowerment operate in the lives of individuals and communities, developing an understanding of empowerment based on the lived experiences of the people themselves.
The concept of empowerment has been incorporated into research in one of two ways: as either an intermediary variable towards other development goals or as an outcome in and of itself. In terms of empowerment as an intermediary variable that affects other development outcomes, topics that have received the most attention include contraceptive use, child and maternal health outcomes, and household food security (Malhotra et al., 2002). For example, A1 Riyami, Afifi, and Mabry (2004) and Govindasamy and Malhotra (1996) found that measures of empowerment, such as mobility and involvement in household decision-making, were linked to increased contraception use. Similarly, measures of empowerment were positively associated with child health outcomes (Kishor, 2000). The area of food security has also been explored in some depth, primarily from the perspective of womenâ€™s status and equality, rather than empowerment specifically (although many of measures are the same as those used in research on empowerment). Women have been found to play important roles in improving food security. A number of studies have found that womenâ€™s control over household resources is positively related to household food security measures. Research by Hyder et al. (2005) and Doss (2006) found that womenâ€™s independent income and ownership of land (used as proxies for empowerment) contributed positively to womenâ€™s ability to manage food-securing activities and increased spending on food expenditure. Increases in womenâ€™s income have been found to do the same (Duflo & Udry, 2004; Hoddinott & Haddad, 1995). One of the most notable studies to consider womenâ€™s status and food security was done by Smith and Haddad (2000), in which they did a cross-country study of developing countries (N=63) to explore the influence that different factors have on reducing hunger. They found that improvements in womenâ€™s status in society (measured by increases in womenâ€™s
education and life expectancy) accounted for over half of the reduction of hunger. This is significant, given that other factors more closely related to food and health, such as increased food availability and improved health environment, accounted for less than half of the reduction in hunger.
The other approach to researching empowerment, which considers empowerment itself as an outcome, focuses on the factors that are associated with an increase in empowerment. The primary factors which have received the most attention and which have been generally associated with empowerment are education, labor market status, land ownership, and participation in micro-credit programs, although age, family structure, and social norms are also examined (Samman & Santos, 2009). Education is closely correlated with empowerment measures. Several studies have found that education effects or predicts empowerment outcomes, such as control over money, greater decision-making power, mobility, and attitudes towards gender and domestic violence (Gupta & Yesudian, 2006; Kamal & Zunaid, 2006; Malhotra & Mather, 1997; Speizer, Whittle, & Carter, 2005 in Samman & Santos, 2009). Similarly, the ability to engage in paid work has been found to have important impacts on womenâ€™s empowerment. Women who contribute to household earnings have increased decision-making power within their household and are able to invest in the health and education of themselves and their family (Esplen & Brody, 2007; Jejeebhoy, 2000; Kabeer, 2005; Malhotra & Mather, 1997; Samman & Santos, 2009). There is also evidence, however, that paid work increases the burden of work placed on women and may have negative effects on their health and well-being (Esplen & Brody, 2007; Haile, Bock, & Folmer, 2012).
In considering empowerment as an outcome, Malhotra etal. (2002) note that there has been very little work to understand empowerment as an outcome of policy or program initiatives (p. 23). Trommlervoa et al. (2015) echo this sentiment and call for more research to investigate how government programs influence empowerment at the individual and communal levels. The majority of the work in this area has focused on empowerment in the context of microcredit programs, mostly in Bangladesh. Pioneering research in this area, Hashemi, Schuler, and Riley (1996) looked at the relationship between participation in microfinance organizations and various empowerment indicators (public mobility, asset ownership, economic contribution to family, involvement in family decision-making, experience of domestic violence, and legal/political awareness. They found generally positive impacts; greater control over assets, increased decision-making capacity, and greater economic contribution, among other measures. Similarly, Pitt et al. (2006) found comparable outcomes; increases in social networks, communication about family planning, decision-making and control over resources, and mobility.
Kabeer, a leading scholar on microfinance and empowerment, also found that participation in microfinance programs generally contributed positively to empowerment (Kabeer, 2001). However, Kabeer, in a comprehensive review of the research on the subject (2017), notes that not all findings show a positive relationship and explores some notable variations in findings. She describes how outcomes in legal/political awareness and the influence of family domination on women was not much improved through participation, and that reductions in levels of domestic violence vary between studies. She also discusses how research shows that the nature of economic contribution influences womenâ€™s empowerment outcomes; for example, the magnitude of contribution (i.e., how
much money a women earns) and whether she earns her money from outside the home or not appears to have a more significant impact than does mere participation in a microfinance program. She concludes that participation in microfinance cannot alone account for increases in empowerment outcomes, and that it is necessary to consider the particulars of the program.
Research on womenâ€™s empowerment in development generally, and microfinance specifically, demonstrates the important role that empowerment has in development and the need to understand it further. My work with AGRUPAR contributes to this body of knowledge in various ways. While understanding how microcredit programs influence empowerment is beneficial and necessary, it is important to expand the scope of research and explore how other programs contribute (or not) to empowerment among its participants. This research contributes to this by providing an in-depth analysis of how participation in a municipal program on urban agriculture facilitates empowerment. Furthermore, research on empowerment is heavily biased towards Asia; my project will help provide insight into empowerment in the context of Latin America, an underresearched area in the field. It is important to expand the scope of research to include new regions because empowerment is a deeply contextual process and the experience of empowerment in Asia is unlikely to be representative across cultures. Additionally, my emphasis on qualitative data will contribute to the need for a contextual, personal understanding of empowerment.
Agriculture & Empowerment
One of the most significant applications of the concept of empowerment to issues of agriculture is the Womenâ€™s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). The WEAI is a
relatively new measurement tool that can be used to understand and monitor the role of women, empowerment, and agency in the context of agriculture. It is one of the only, if not the only, indexes designed specifically to focus on empowerment and agriculture, which the authors and designers state is "an area that has been relatively neglected in studies of empowermentâ€ (Alkire et al., 2013, p. 73).
The WEAI is a survey-based instrument designed to capture a multidimensional understanding of empowerment in agriculture. To do this, the WEAI collects data in five domains that have been identified as priority areas in agricultural programs by the USAID. These include (1) decisions about agricultural production, (2) access to and decisionmaking power about productive resources, (3) control of use of income, (4) leadership in the community, and (5) time allocation (Alkire et al., 2013, p. 74). Individuals are then given a score within each of these domains, as well as an aggregate empowerment score (labeled as a 5DE score). This measure intends to reflect the overall level of empowerment of an individual. This is paired with a Gender Parity Index (GPI), a novel scoring index that uses these scores to assess intra-household inequality between head male and head female. These two indices can be used to show the number of (dis)empowered women and the number of women to have gender parity, which can be compared by group and can be used to track changes over time.
The introduction of the WEAI is an important step in integrating the concept of empowerment into research on agriculture. Because of the many challenges of defining and measuring empowerment, it is often not identified as a policy goal by governments (Alkire et al., 2013). The WEAI is an attempt to develop a robust measurement tool to evaluate empowerment in order to encourage greater use and attention to empowerment
as a relevant and meaningful outcome. While this project is substantially different than the WEAI, it provided important insights into examining empowerment in the context of agriculture. The WEAI informed my research by providing domains identified as being relevant to agriculture and empowerment, such as the types of decisions and resources relevant to agricultural activities. While the WEAI is a different approach to examining empowerment than the one I took in my research, because of its centrality in the discussion on empowerment and agriculture, I will review studies that utilize the WEAI measures and discuss the insights they provide for researching empowerment.
The WEAI was piloted in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Uganda to test the instrument as well as illustrate the type of information the WEAI can provide. The WEAI pilot provides information about what empowerment (or disempowerment) looks like in each context, allowing for comparisons to be made within and between countries, as well as between men and women. For example, the pilot found that among women, 61% in Bangladesh, 71% in Guatemala, and 57% in Uganda were considered disempowered and found that the domains that contributed most to disempowerment varied among these women (from weak leadership, to lack of control over income, to inequitable time burden, respectively). The pilot also found that other household characteristics that have been used as proxies for empowerment (e.g., education or wealth) were not strongly associated with empowerment measures across all three countries, indicating that empowerment indicators must be embedded in the cultural norms around gender and, in this case, agriculture. The preliminary findings from the WEAI pilot demonstrate that the WEAI can identify key areas of [dis] empowerment, understand how [dis] empowerment varies among groups, and identify areas of [dis]empowerment on which to focus policy or project interventions.
Since the release of the WEAI pilot data, some work has been done to analyze the relationship between empowerment indicators and various health outcomes. One study by Malapit and Quisumbing (2015) examined the link between womenâ€™s empowerment in agriculture and the nutritional status among women and children in Ghana. Their findings indicate a mixed and weak correlation; empowerment was strongly associated with the quality of feeding practices for infants and children, but was only weakly associated with childrenâ€™s nutritional status and womenâ€™s BMI. Importantly, the authors found that different empowerment indicators had varying effects on nutrition measures. For example, higher credit decision making scores were positively correlated with a higher dietary diversity score and greater likelihood of an acceptable diet for girls, while, in contrast, higher production decision-making scores and greater equality in the household (between husband and wife) were negatively correlated with dietary diversity for girls. The authors argue that these seemingly incongruous results indicate that the different empowerment domains vary in their impact on nutritional outcomes, and research needs to consider how the specific empowerment domains relate to particular health outcomes.
Another study using the WEAI, Sraboni et al. (2014), found that among women in Bangladesh, increases in empowerment measures were associated with higher caloric consumption and improved dietary diversity among households. However, they also found that other measures, specifically, household wealth, education, and occupation, were more important in determining adult nutritional status than were empowerment measures. Similar to Malapit and Quisumbing, the authors found that different empowerment domains had distinct impacts on food security measures; for example, increased group membership and control over resources were significant predictors for calorie availability
and dietary diversity, while credit decision-making and group membership were negatively associated with adult male BMI. The authors conclude that while empowerment measures do improve household food security outcomes, it is not clear they should be prioritized over other determinants and that it is important to understand the effects of specific empowerment domains, as some domains have greater positive effects than others.
Oâ€™Hara and Clement (2018) used a mixed methods strategy to examine critically the use of the WEAI as a tool for understanding empowerment. The authors criticize the WEAI for defining empowerment primarily in terms of visible agency, which they characterize as an emphasis on quantifiable individual actions, arguing that this is an inadequate conception of empowerment. They stress the role of critical consciousness in empowerment, based on Freireâ€™s conscientizagao, in which people "become aware of their ability to make choices to change their lives... [and] by taking action against oppressive social and political structuresâ€ (p. 112). The authors examine the relationship of typical determinants of empowerment (e.g., education, income, etc.) to the WEAI measures of empowerment and their own measure of critical consciousness (attitudes towards culturally relevant gender norms, such as violence against women, womenâ€™s role in politics, and womenâ€™s role in household work, among others). Working with households that were part of a USAID funded project in Nepal, the authors collected quantitative data using the WEAI survey, as well as their new critical consciousness survey instrument. They also collected qualitative data through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and observation to understand how accurately these surveys captured culturally-specific forms of empowerment.
Based on their analysis, the authors draw a number of conclusions. First, the standardized measures of empowerment in the WEAI do not appear to capture local conceptions of empowerment. For example, the WEAI measures membership in grassroots organizations; however, while men and women may have similar rates of group membership, the value attached to those groups varies, with womenâ€™s groups (micro-finance or gardening groups) considered less influential or valued than groups in which men are involved. Second, some of the measures the WEAI considers to be indicators of empowerment, such as decisions about production and control over income from production, were not found to be representative of empowerment in the local context. Rather, garden work and sales were considered womenâ€™s work, and earnings from such sales were considered so marginal that they had no effect on bargaining power within the household. The authors argue that these measures, rather than being indicative of empowerment, actually "reinforce womenâ€™s subordination and traditional gender rolesâ€ (p. 120). Finally, the authors found that in the context of these Nepalese communities, age, education, and wealth (often used as proxies for empowerment) were not significant predictors of empowerment or critical consciousness scores, while intra-household composition (e.g., does a woman live with her in-laws or does her husband migrate for work) was consistently predictive. In Nepal, household roles and power dynamics are sharply defined, making this a strong factor in a womanâ€™s empowerment.
Oâ€™Hara and Clement (ibid.) conclude that the standardized measures used in the WEAI may not adequately reflect empowerment at the local level. They found that their critical consciousness measure, based on locally specific values, was more significantly associated with traditional determinants of empowerment than the WEAI, a finding that
suggests that the WEAI may not capture local empowerment processes. Their conclusion is that attempts to measure empowerment using the WEAI would be improved if a measure of critical consciousness based on context-specific values was included.
A final study worth noting is the work done by Wright and Annes (2016), who explored empowerment in the context of women farmers in US Midwest. While this study did not use the WEAI and was based in the US, a much different context for empowerment than my study population, it is informative in that it is a qualitative study and because it used the Rowland framework of power to understand empowerment (see below for discussion on empowerment frameworks). For power to, they found that women farmers demonstrated agency through their personal commitment to becoming a farmer, acquisition of new skills and knowledge, and autonomy over decision-making. Women farmers developed their power with through the development of personal relationships, as well as though their efforts to educate others about agricultural issues. Many women saw their farms not just as a means of income but also as a way to engage their communities in a dialogue about agriculture. Farming helped women to become less isolated, develop relationships, demonstrate their specialized knowledge, and civically engage with their communities. Finally, for power within, the authors found that women underwent profound transformations in their identity; they defined themselves as farmers and experienced an increase in their sense of competence and self-esteem. They also valued the socio-psychological benefits of agriculture, such as enjoyment, fulfillment, and pride.
While acknowledging the empowering aspects of agriculture among these women, Wright and Annes also critically analyze how the empowerment process can be subverted. Their discussions with women revealed a number of challenges to the empowerment
process, including reliance on male incomes to support their farm efforts, conforming to gendered roles in agriculture, and the socially constructed expectations of "realâ€ farmers. They found that women farmers were not always seen as legitimate farmers, and that some felt pressure to conform to norms others held of farmers and farming. In these instances, rather than being empowering, the authors argue that farming becomes "disciplinary and coercive by pushing women to adopt, and to be confined to, a gender and a rural identity that is externally prescribedâ€ (p. 567). Through their analysis, they conclude that agriculture as a means of empowerment (specifically value-added agriculture) is "complex, multifaceted, and requires constant negotiationâ€ (p. 567).
Although these studies are not about urban agriculture, they are useful for understanding how empowerment has been applied in the context of agriculture, broadly. Importantly, the findings of these studies illustrate the complexity of researching empowerment. The preliminary findings from the WEAI show the importance of a standardized instrument for comparing variation in areas of [dis] empowerment across different populations. Similarly, Malapit and Quisumbing (2015) and Sraboni et al. (2014) find that measuring these different domains of empowerment is important for understanding how they differentially affect health outcomes, as some domains have more effects than others. Despite these utilities, Oâ€™Hara and Clement (2018) find that such a standardized, agency based approach can be insufficient for capturing the local context most relevant to empowerment, calling for the inclusion of critical consciousness in measures of empowerment. Finally, Wright and Annes (2016) explore the nuances of empowerment among US women farmers, finding that empowerment is not a straightforward process of wholesale gains, but rather a complex negotiation between the
individual and broader social forces. For my own research, these studies demonstrate the importance of (1) examining the various domains of empowerment, (2) situating empowerment within contextually relevant norms, values, and expectations, and (3) recognizing that empowerment is a negotiated process, with both gains and concessions. Urban Agriculture & Empowerment
Despite frequently being identified as a benefit of urban agriculture, few studies have systematically explored the concept of empowerment in relation to urban agriculture; a number of studies discuss empowerment in the context of urban agriculture, but they tend to use the term very loosely and lack a rigorous conceptual background or framework through which to analyze empowerment. Here I will discuss studies that have looked specifically at urban agriculture and which include or reference a relationship to empowerment.
The research on empowerment in urban agriculture to date approaches the subject from a gendered perspective, focusing on the role of women in urban agriculture. Women play very important roles in the practice of urban agriculture; it is most often women who are the primary grower and caretaker for urban crops. Some proposed reasons for this are that because plots in urban areas are close to the home, agriculture fits into womenâ€™s schedules more easily, as they can take care of it while at home taking care of domestic work (Bryld, 2003). Also, in many countries, urban agriculture is still considered a marginal activity, not a legitimate business (Bryld, 2003; Dennery, 1996; D. G. Maxwell, 1995).
One study examining the link of womenâ€™s empowerment to urban agriculture was done by Hadebe and Mpofu (2013) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They used surveys (n=101),
interviews, and focus groups to understand "how women were contributing to urban poverty reduction, provision of urban food security and improved urban environmental management through the empowerment of urban women farmersâ€ (p. 20). Their conclusion is that women are empowered through urban agriculture by making decisions about what to grow, cultivating their plots, and choosing how to use produce. An important finding was that 55% of women make decisions about urban agriculture, while only 20% make them jointly with a spouse, and just 12% of men make the primary decisions. They also claim that women were empowered through increased economic gains.
Another study to apply the term empowerment to research on urban agriculture was done by Sebata and colleagues (2014), also in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, using interviews (n=30) and focus groups to understand how urban agriculture is used as a "resilience strategyâ€ by women. They focus on how urban agriculture contributes to food security, employment, income, and empowerment. The results indicate that urban agriculture increases household food supplies, thus increasing food security. They also found that because most of the crops grown were for home consumption, the income generated from the practice was relatively low. In terms of empowerment, they found that women felt they had more decision-making power in the household after beginning urban agriculture; women claimed to have more decision-making power in terms of child education, household food provision, buying agricultural inputs, and buying personal items.
While these studies certainly give important insight into womenâ€™s role in urban agriculture, their contribution to an understanding of empowerment is limited. These studies lack a definition or conceptual framework for empowerment; how they defined it,
measured it, and analyzed it is unknown. They appear to have simply applied the term, assuming that increased income and decision-making are adequate proxies for empowerment. For these reasons, these studies superficially apply the term empowerment and reveal very little about how urban agriculture is related to empowerment.
The most thorough exploration of empowerment and urban agriculture was done by Slater (2001) who conducted research with women in South Africa who had small "food gardens.â€ Through detailed life history interviews, she found that while the practice of agriculture yielded very little in the way of economic benefits, the women experienced profound pride and self-worth as a result of their gardening, as well as developed supportive social networks (p. 648). She also found that women used their control over the garden to renegotiate household power relations by exercising more control over the food consumed in the house. Through this, the women challenged patriarchal food customs by serving food considered not appropriate for men (p. 647). Based on her findings, she argues that the benefits of urban agriculture extend beyond just economic outcomes and that these alternative but meaningful outcomes should also be considered by those involved in policy-making and community development. Slaterâ€™s work provides a more robust and theoretically grounded understanding of how urban agriculture relates to empowerment. She refers at length to research on gender and development and discusses many concepts important to empowerment, such as "conscientisationâ€ and the different types of power (p. 640). Despite this, she does not provide a definition of empowerment or describe a clear conceptual and theoretical framework for how she analyzes it.
Theoretical & Conceptual Background
To understand how participation in AGRUPARâ€™s program on urban agriculture facilitates empowerment among participants, this research combined Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power with established empowerment frameworks. Empowerment frameworks were used to analyze empowerment in terms of the levels at which it occurs (individual vs. collective), the specific forms of power gained, the domains within which power occurs, as well as the encouraging and inhibiting contextual factors. Bourdieuâ€™s theory of power provided a framework for understanding the nature of power and how people are socially situated within a given social context. Here I will discuss the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of this project and how the various pieces were combined to guide the research
Despite its prominence in the field of development, a consistent definition of empowerment remains elusive. Ibrahim and Alkire (2007) identified 29 different definitions of empowerment. In their review of the literature, Malhotra et al. (2002) identify a number of key terms that are routinely used to describe empowerment, including options, choice, control, and power. These concepts center on the issues of people gaining a greater understanding and increasing control over resources and decision-making processes to improve their lives (Cattaneo & Chapman, 2010; Grabe, 2012; Israel, Checkoway, Schulz, & Zimmerman, 1994).
Leading definitions of empowerment include Kabeerâ€™s (1999), who defined it as "the process by which those who have been denied the ability to make strategic life choices acquire such an abilityâ€ (p. 437). Similarly, Narayan (2005) focuses on the ability to make
choices and views empowerment as "increasing poor peopleâ€™s freedom of choice and action to shape their own livesâ€ (p. 4). Alsop, Bertelsen, and Holland (2006) argue that empowerment is "the process of enhancing an individualâ€™s or groupâ€™s capacity to make effective choices [and] to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomesâ€ (p. 10).
While these definitions vary, they share a common focus on the ability to make choices and influence circumstances. However, despite this general consensus, there remains a great deal of conceptual ambiguity, and empowerment is often conflated with other concepts such as agency, power, participation, and gender equality (Luttrell et al., 2009; Malhotra et al., 2002; Murphy-Graham, 2008). If empowerment is merely about making choices and having influence, how is this different than agency or power? If womenâ€™s empowerment is about increasing womenâ€™s power, is it any different than focusing on gender equality? Given that the term empowerment is frequently used interchangeably with these terms, it is important to identify its distinguishing features.
A central feature that distinguishes empowerment from other concepts, particularly participation in development, political processes and gender equality, is that empowerment is fundamentally about the involvement and agency of individuals themselves (Malhotra etal., 2002). Individuals cannot be recipients of empowerment, but must be actively involved. External agencies can facilitate or create favorable conditions for empowerment, and can in fact play an essential role in facilitating empowerment (Batliwala, 1994), but they cannot make someone empowered (Mosedale, 2003). Different definitions of empowerment can lead to varying interpretations of where, how, and through whom empowerment occurs; some adopt a more top-down approach in which
external agencies or groups play a more significant role in empowerment, while others focus on the individuals themselves and their capacity for change. In terms of empowerment versus participation, Bennett (2002) argues that empowerment is a process "from below,â€ experienced by people, while participation is initiated "from above,â€ coming from institutions. Bennett argues that social inclusion or participation is about systemic change in institutions, defining it as "the removal of institutional barriers and the enhancement of incentives to increase the access of diverse individuals and groups to assets and development opportunitiesâ€ (p. 13). In contrast, empowerment is about individuals and groups exercising their agency and is defined as "the enhancement of assets and capabilities of diverse individuals and groups to engage, influence and hold accountable the institutions which affect themâ€ (p. 13). A similar distinction should be made for conflating empowerment with gender equality; efforts towards gender equality can happen at a systemic or institutional level without women actually being involved, whereas empowerment is about involving women and developing their agency (Malhotra et al., 2002, p. 7).
The second distinguishing feature of empowerment is that it is a process (Jejeebhoy, 2000; Kabeer, 1999; Malhotra etal., 2002; Oxaal & Baden, 1997; Rowlands, 1995). Defining empowerment as a process is important for differentiating it from agency or power. As Kabeer argues, empowerment is not only about the ability to make choices, but the transition from being disempowered to empowered; it is the "expansion of peopleâ€™s ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to themâ€ (Kabeer, 1999, p. 437). People may be powerful, but unless they were previously denied that power, they are not necessarily empowered. Kabeerâ€™s understanding of
empowerment emphasizes that it is not just about the amount of power one has, but rather, the "process of changeâ€ through which individuals gain more power.
While these features make it distinct from other similar concepts, a singular definition of empowerment is lacking. The process through which empowerment is realized and its outcomes are necessarily embedded in the social and cultural milieu in which they are experienced, making a one-size-fits-all definition antithetical to the very concept of empowerment (Zimmerman, 1984). In order to understand peopleâ€™s ability to choose, an understanding of the social context is essential. Empowerment must be contextualized in terms of the "social norms, values, and practices that constrain [peopleâ€™s] capacity to exercise agency in key areas of their lives and relationshipsâ€ (Kabeer, Khan, & Adlparvar, 2011, p. 5). It is these broader contextual factors that determine the types of choices that are socially acceptable for certain people to make. They legitimize some peopleâ€™s right and ability to make choices in particular areas, while denying these rights and abilities to others. The actual process and form of empowerment will necessarily vary depending on the broader context within which it is occurring.
The factors that limit or enable peopleâ€™s ability to make choices are inherently social and are fundamentally related to peopleâ€™s power within a given social system. Empowerment, then, is about changing existing power relationships in order to expand the choices available to people. Batliwala (1994) considers empowerment to be "a range of activities from individual self-assertion to collective resistance... that challenge basic power relations.â€ In her work on womenâ€™s empowerment in Pakistan, Ah focuses on how women "repositionâ€ themselves with close and distant relations and "are able to bring substantial changes in their lives especially in relations of powerâ€ (Ah, 2013, p. 1). This is not just a
gender issue; any individual or group (e.g., class, caste, ethnicity, or other) whose access to resources and power is limited can act to "repositionâ€ themselves and shift power relations (Batliwala, 1994; Luttrell et al., 2009). Based on the importance of changing power relations, Batliwala (1994) describes empowerment as "a process aimed at changing the nature and direction of systemic forces that marginalize women and other disadvantaged sectors in a given contextâ€ (p. 130).
Taking all these considerations together, empowerment consists of the following elements: (1) ability to choose, (2) process of gaining more agency or power, (3) involves the individuals themselves, (4) is contextually defined, and (5) is about changing power relations. Based on these concepts, the definition of empowerment used for this research is: an individual or group's process of increasing awareness and building capacity to make choices and take action, which are meaningful to them, within the context of their lives. This definition draws from Kabeer (1999) and Narayanâ€™s (2005) focus on individualsâ€™ ability to make choices and take action, with Alsop, Betelsen, and Hollandâ€™s (2006) emphasis on enhancing capacity.
Although scholars differ in the way they conceptualize empowerment, they have identified some core elements that should be considered when researching it. These include (1) the types of power gained, (2) the domains within which it occurs, and (3) the factors that encourage or inhibit it. These various elements were incorporated into this research in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of empowerment.
Power types. In terms of the types of power gained, this research draws heavily from Rowlandsâ€™ framework of power. In her pioneering work, Questioning Empowerment
(1997), Rowlands developed what has become one of the most commonly used frameworks for conceptualizing power within the empowerment literature. She begins with the most common understanding of power as something that someone has over another and that one only gains at the expense of another, based on Weberâ€™s conception of power (Wallimann, Tatsis, & Zito, 1977). She argues, however, that power can take many forms, with the "zero-sumâ€ understanding of power being just one type among many. She identifies "generative powers,â€ which refer to "the processes by which people become aware of their own interests and how those relate to the interests of others, in order both to participate from a position of greater strength in decision-making and actually to influence such decisionsâ€ (Rowlands, 1997, p. 14). In other words, these generative powers encourage and enable people to become more active agents in their lives.
In her framework, Rowlands identifies multiple ways in which power can be realized: power over, power to, power with, and power within. The first type, power over, is the traditional zero-sum notion of power in which power is fixed and controlled by someone, and leaves the least space for empowerment. Rowlands defines it as "power that is fixed and controlled by someoneâ€ (1997, p. 13). Luttrell et al. add to this, specifying that it is "the ability to coerce and influence actions and thoughtsâ€ (2009, p. 8). The other three types of power, generative powers, are key areas for developing individual and collective empowerment. Power to "occurs at the level of the individual, but emphasizes capacity development, problem-solving skills, and the ability to understand how things workâ€ (Rowlands, 1997, p. 13). It could also include "the capacity to act, to organize, and change existing hierarchiesâ€ (Luttrell et al., 2009, p. 8). This power focuses on increasing human resources (skills and competencies) as well as material resources (e.g., financial capital)
(Wright & Annes, 2016). Power with "is a collective form of power involving how individuals work together towards a common purposeâ€ through collective action, social mobilization, or alliance building (Luttrell et al., 2009, p. 8; Rowlands, 1997, p. 13). Lastly, power within "occurs at the individual level and involves developing a belief in oneâ€™s capabilities and worth through increased self-esteem and self-confidence, and is considered the starting point for subsequent forms of empowermentâ€ (Rowlands, 1997, p. 13).
An important contribution that Rowlandsâ€™ framework brings to this research is the integration of two very important aspects of empowerment: collective action (power with) and internal changes in oneâ€™s sense of self (power within). In terms of power with, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the importance of collective action in the empowerment literature, specifically among women but relevant to any marginalized group. While changes at the individual level are important, if substantial shifts in power are to occur, individual empowerment is not sufficient; oppressed groups must work together collectively to initiate change in the social, political, and economic systems that constrain them. Without groups working together collectively, empowerment at the individual level will not lead to substantial shifts in societal power relations (Rowlands, 1997). Individuals can become empowered, make changes in their lives, and push against restrictive norms, but the impact of such actions will likely be limited (Sardenberg, 2008). Addressing structural barriers and inequalities require people to work collectively towards a common goal. Group participation can help develop a collective identity; as people come together and see their shared struggles they can develop a sense of solidarity and more effectively mobilize to address these shared issues (Cornwall, 2016; Sardenberg, 2016; Stromquist,
2002). For this research, Rowlandsâ€™ concept of power with enables me to incorporate this collective aspect of empowerment and describe how participants work together towards common goals.
At the level of the individual, the inclusion of Rowlandsâ€™ concept of power within was crucial for developing a full understanding of empowerment. Empowerment cannot be reduced to simply the increase in power. Rather, integral to empowerment is the "ontological sense that involves the construction of that person and their worldâ€ (Bartlett, 2008, p. 528). At the core of the empowerment process is a positive change in a personâ€™s sense of self and an increased belief in their capacity as an agent. Rowlands (1995) describes empowerment as more than simply being able to make decisions, but as "the processes that lead people to perceive themselves as able and entitled to occupy that decision-making space... so that the people affected come to see themselves as having the capacity and the right to act and have influenceâ€ (p. 87).
Part of this process of developing power within involves people thinking differently about themselves, their relationships, and the social context within which they live. Cornwall (2016) argues that for development programs to contribute to empowerment, they cannot merely reduce poverty, but must also encourage people to think critically about "limiting normative beliefs and expectations that keep women [people] locked into situations of subordination and dependency, challenging restrictive cultural and social norms and contesting the institutions of everyday life that sustain inequityâ€ (p. 345). As people become aware of "limiting normative beliefsâ€ they can begin to challenge them, breaking down some of the "internalized oppressionâ€ instilled by these beliefs and changing the way they see themselves (Cornwall 2016; Batliwala 1993; Rowlands 1994).
This can develop in people a greater sense of power within, as they begin to see themselves as having capacity and worth, "liberated from their perception of themselves as weak, inferior and limited beingsâ€ (Cornwall, 2016, p. 345).
Rowlandsâ€™ framework of power was central to this research and was used to characterize the personal changes in power people experienced as a result of participation. Importantly, Rowlandsâ€™ framework enabled me to incorporate two crucial aspects of empowerment, collective action [power with) and internal changes [power within), into my analysis.
Domains. The second factor that scholars consider in analyzing empowerment is the various domains within which empowerment occurs. Samman and Santos (2009) define these domains as "the multiple areas of life in which a person may exercise agencyâ€ (p. 6). Considering the domains within which empowerment is occurring is important, as "power is multilocational and exists in multiple domainsâ€ (Malhotra & Mather, 1997, p. 604). As a consequence, a personâ€™s agency may vary depending on the domain, with people having power in some areas, and being less powerful or disempowered in others. For example, Masonâ€™s (2005) research with women in Ghana found that women were relatively empowered in the economic domain, working as traders and hiring men for certain jobs, while at the same time they were submissive to their husbands at home. Similarly, quantitative studies on womenâ€™s empowerment tend to have low or moderate correlations between the different empowerment measures. This suggests, as Samman and Santos note (2009, p. 7), that such measures may be "conveying distinct information,â€ indicating that empowerment does not occur across all domains equally (Jejeebhoy, 2000; Kishor, 2000; Mason & Smith, 2003).
Stromquist (1995) developed a commonly cited framework for understanding the dimensions along which empowerment occurs. She believes that empowerment is a sociopolitical concept that goes beyond political participation and consciousness-raising. To fully understand empowerment, specifically in terms of womenâ€™s empowerment, she argues that researchers need to consider how it occurs in different domains, specifically, its cognitive, psychological, economic, and political components. In their review of the literature, Malhotra etal. (2002, p. 13) synthesized Stromquistâ€™s work with other commonly used dimensions of womenâ€™s empowerment and identified the six primary domains along which empowerment occurs: psychological, economic, political, familial or interpersonal, socio-cultural, and legal.
To ensure that the process of empowerment was considered holistically, domains from Malhotra et al.â€™s framework were used in this research to identify the psychological (individual), economic, political, interpersonal, and socio-cultural spheres within which change occurs. For my research, these domains, which have been generally identified with empowerment in the literature, were combined with domains that are specific to AGRUPAR, specifically health and environment. These different domains were used to guide survey and interview questions and served as categories within which to analyze the areas in which participants experienced changes.
Contextual factors. The final conceptual piece from the empowerment literature that I integrated into my research was Rowlandsâ€™ understanding of encouraging and inhibiting factors. The process of empowerment does not occur in a vacuum; rather, it is a contextual, interactive process between individuals and their environment. How empowerment looks, the types of changes people pursue, and their capacity to affect
change cannot be considered independently of the broader context within which individuals operate (Petesch, Smulovitz, & Walton, 2005). Although my primary focus is on the process of individual and collective empowerment among AGRUPAR participants, it is important to understand the contextual factors that may influence this process. In order to understand the contextual circumstances within which urban agricultural producers become empowered (or not), I chose to use Rowlandsâ€™ (1997) framework of encouraging and inhibiting factors. In her work, Rowlands found that these circumstantial factors occurred at varying levels, including the personal level (e.g., strengths and weaknesses brought by each person), relational level (e.g., the support or lack of that the women received from those around them), organizational (e.g., how the organization the women worked with facilitated or inhibited empowerment), and cultural (e.g., cultural factors such as gender norms and expectations). I used these categories to describe those factors that emerged as relevant and meaningful within the context of AGRUPAR participation.
In summary, to understand the process of empowerment, I combined these various empowerment frameworks to analyze empowerment in terms of the forms of power gained, the domains within which it occurs, and encouraging and inhibiting factors. These areas have been identified as core factors and are necessary for developing a robust understanding of empowerment.
Bourdieu's Theory of Practice
Power is central to the concept of empowerment. An individualâ€™s ability to make choices and take action, central to the definition of empowerment, is inherently bound up with the issue of power; empowerment is achieved by "addressing the causes of disempowerment and tackling disadvantage caused by the way in which power relations
shape choices, opportunities, and wellbeingâ€ (Luttrell et al., 2009, p. 6). While the concept is fundamentally rooted in power, a primary critique is that it has become watered down: "power has often ironically been omitted from discussions of empowermentâ€ (Archibald & Wilson, 2011, p. 22). Research on empowerment seldom incorporates established, explicitly outlined theories of power into their research design and analysis (Navarro, 2006; Sardenberg 2016).
Furthermore, research on empowerment often focuses on metrics that are easy to quantify over nuanced, deep analyses of shifts in real power (Alkire et al., 2013). As an example, a study by Anderson and Eswaran (2009) considered womenâ€™s decision-making capacity in relation to whether women earned their own income or did largely unpaid work at home. They defined empowerment simply as "the ability of women to make choices/decisions within households relative to their husbandsâ€ (p. 179) and measured womenâ€™s decision-making regarding the purchase of various cooking products and clothing. Although they found womenâ€™s having her own source of income was related to their ability to make decisions on such purchases, Kabeer argued that if empowerment is reduced to merely making choices regarding the purchase of cooking oil, "we would be setting the bar for womenâ€™s empowerment very low indeedâ€ (2017, p. 6). While the Anderson and Eswaran study reveals the extreme marginalization that some women live under (where the ability to make simple purchasing decisions really is a significant gain), it highlights how the concept of empowerment is watered down and stripped of consequential insight into shifts in power. This is also seen in programs on microfinance where much of the research on empowerment has focused; it is often assumed that giving
women access to financial resources will lead to empowerment through increased decision-making power, for example (Luttrell et al., 2009).
To avoid shallow analyses of empowerment, bereft of power, research needs to be situated within a comprehensive theory of society. Navarro (2006) contends that power is often reduced to a variable or a factor rather than part of a larger understanding of social relations.
[I]f power is so pervasive and determines the whole set of social relations and structures, then it is hardly imaginable that power can be theoretically (and concretely) understood without a broad understanding of society. It means that debates about power are sometimes flawed exactly because they are devoid of larger social determinants and thus incapable of really analyzing power as a relational process that, in fact, sustains the fabric of society. (Navarro, 2006, p. 12)
Based on Navarroâ€™s argument for grounding power (and therefore empowerment) in social theory, I used Bourdieuâ€™s theory of practice as the theoretical foundation for my analysis of empowerment. Bourdieuâ€™s theory of practice offered a conceptual framework for understanding the social structures, processes, and relations that define power and for exploring how an individual is attributed power within a particular social group. Most research on empowerment uses Rowlandsâ€™ four powers framework as the basis for analyzing power. While her framework is useful for conceptualizing the changes in power people experience within their personal lives, there is no established theory of power undergirding the formation of these particular categories or their ability to rigorously describe power. Through the application of Bourdieu, I firmly ground my understanding of empowerment in an established theory of power and expand the theoretical rigor of research on empowerment.
For Bourdieu, social life is a struggle among individuals and groups for power and resources. He conceptualizes the social world as being composed of different social fields within which individuals compete for valued capitals and resources that position them within the social hierarchy. He argues that groups who are dominant within a field try to maintain their power over these capitals and distinguish themselves from other lower-ranking groups (Bourdieu, 1984). His theory provides a framework for understanding power and the form it takes in a particular context by describing the dynamics of the social world, how resources are distributed and valued, and how actors position themselves within this space.
In addition to providing a robust and empirically based framework for understanding social processes, Bourdieuâ€™s framework was also useful for understanding empowerment because of its integration of social structures and individual agents. Bourdieu admonishes both "objectivistsâ€ who focus too heavily on structure and "subjectivistsâ€ who concentrate solely on agency (Ritzer, 1992, p. 437). He does not see social structures or social agents as independent of one another; rather, he believes that there is a dialectical relationship between structure and agency, arguing that they inform and mold one another. Bourdieuâ€™s argument for a dynamic relationship between structure and agency is important for understanding empowerment, as it gives room for individual agency and the possibility of change, while acknowledging social structures and how they shape and constrain behavior.
To explain the dynamics of the social world and how individuals are positioned within it, Bourdieu sets forth a theoretical framework with which to empirically analyze social relations. He summarizes the primary conceptual pieces of his theory to be: (habitus
x capital) + field = practice. In other words, the relationship between an individualâ€™s habitus and capital and the social field within which they are situated will determine social action. It is through this relationship of habitus, capital, and field that individuals jockey for desirable or distinguished positions within a given social hierarchy; it is through habitus, capital, and field that people struggle for power.
Field. In terms of social structure, Bourdieu conceptualized the social world as a series of fields, such as religion, art, or education. Much like different playing fields, these distinct areas of human life or activity have their own sets of practices, or rules and values and are divided into different positions, with people who occupy the field competing against one another to occupy the more valued positions. Bourdieu provided a rather convoluted definition of a field as "[A] network or configuration of objective relations between positions. These positions are objectively defined, in their existence and in the determinations they impose upon their occupants, agents, or institutions, by their present and potential situation in the structure of the distribution of species of power (or capital) whose possession commands access to the specific profits that are at stake in the field as well as by their objective relation to other positionsâ€ (Wacquant & Bourdieu, 1992, p. 97).
Fields consist of a network of actors who are in competition for different types of capital and who occupy different positions within the field based on possession of these capitals. In his reading of Bourdieu, Navarro defines fields as "structured spaces that are organized around specific types of capital or combinations of capitalâ€ (Navarro, 2006, p.
18). Fields are distinct from one another based on their internal logic or rules of the game, and differences in the capitals that are valued (Bourdieu, 1998, p. 25). An important feature that differentiates the concept of field from other similar concepts, such as context
or social group, is that it emphasizes the struggle and competition between actors. Differential access to forms of capital creates dominant and subordinate groups with each vying to maintain or change their position relative to others in the field.
In terms of empowerment, the concept of field is useful for understanding social space and the nature of relationships among individuals in the field. The concept of field expressly recognizes that relationships among actors are laden with issues of power and competition; control over capital(s) and the power derived from this are primary incentives for behavior. From this perspective, determining the nature of the field, the capitals valued within it, and the relative positions of its actors is requisite for understanding how power is defined and derived in a particular context. These factors will influence the incentives that people have and the actions that they take, which will affect the form that empowerment takes.
For my analysis of the process of empowerment among AGRUPAR participants, I consider two fields: the field of the urban poor, generally, and the field of agricultural producers, specifically. Most AGRUPAR participants are situated within these two fields and each have distinct influences on participants. Because AGRUPAR targets impoverished neighborhoods, most participants are low-income. In the context of their lives, participants live in low-income communities and compete with other poor urban residents for jobs and resources (and capital, discussed below). This is the broad context within which participants are engaging in urban agricultural production and within which empowerment occurs (or not). Thus, my analysis considers how participants are situated within this broad field of the urban poor and what empowerment looks like within it. I also look more specifically at the field of agricultural producers. Within the city of Quito,
agricultural producers from all over the city, region, and country are competing with one another in the cityâ€™s markets. Within this field, AGRUPAR producers are in a very real and significant competition with other agricultural producers to gain clientele and sell their products. Participants are positioned in this field based on the capitals they possess and how these capitals are valued within the field. Thus, considering the field of agricultural producers is important for understanding the capitals that participants pursue and possess, as well as how they become empowered within this context.
Habitus. Habitus is central to Bourdieuâ€™s understanding of how social structures are both produced and reproduced. Bourdieu defines habitus as "a socially constituted system of cognitive and motivating structures and the socially structured situation in which an agentâ€™s interest are definedâ€ (1977, p. 72). It is the "mental or cognitive structureâ€ of individuals and is comprised of the likes, dislikes, tastes, hobbies, mannerisms, etc. of an individual (Ritzer, 1992, p. 438). Importantly, habitus is something that operates largely unconsciously; it is "an embodied manner of being, seeing, acting and thinking,â€ acquired through social interaction, experience, and education (Bourdieu, 2002; Sakdapolrak, 2014, p. 13). Because habitus proceeds from social experience, it is necessarily contextual and will vary among fields (Navarro, 2006).
Individuals who occupy similar social positions tend to have similar habitus, although habitus does not strictly correlate to class (Bourdieu, 1998, p. 11). However, habitus is an important part of maintaining social hierarchy and creating distinctions between people; it is both "differentiatedâ€ and "differentiatingâ€ (Bourdieu, 1998, p. 8). It occurs within an individual, but it also creates a classificatoiy schema upon which others discern social position. The habitus of individuals influences their position in the field, the
relational hierarchy of capital (Ritzer, 1992, p. 440). An individualâ€™s habitus typically aligns with a certain social field and equips an individual with the ways of being and doing that are valued or appropriate within a given field; in terms of positioning themselves within a field, they unconsciously understand "what needs to be done, what the game demands and requiresâ€ (Lamaison & Bourdieu, 1986, p. 113). Thus, an individualâ€™s habitus can aid them when it aligns with a particular social field, but can also differentiate and marginalize them in the context of another field with different values and ways of being.
Habitus is the crucial link between the individual and the social structure; the rules and norms of a particular group shape the disposition and structures of the individual, who then reproduces the social structure (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 83). It is "the internalization of externality and the externalization of internalityâ€ (1977, p. 72). That is, there is a dialectical relationship in which social structures become embodied in individuals in the form of habitus, who then, in turn, recreate or reproduce social structures in line with their habitus.
With this understanding, Bourdieu contributed significantly to the debate on structure versus agency, arguing that human behavior is neither viewed deterministically as something imposed on people, nor is it seen as the free and intentional activity of autonomous individuals (Navarro, 2006, p. 16). Through habitus, individuals are socially constituted but are not mere products of their social environments; there is room for change and invention, so that social structures can be shifted or altered (Bourdieu, 1977). This point is key to understanding the potential for empowerment; while individuals are embedded in social structures that influence their own behavior and sense of self, these structures are not absolute and can be changed through the work of individuals. Habitus,
and therefore social structure, is "durable but not eternalâ€ (Wacquant & Bourdieu, 1992, p. 133). This research explored how individuals were themselves changed or empowered as a result of participating in AGRUPAR.
Capital. Bourdieuâ€™s concept of capital is what gives people power and status within a social system; it "constitutes the objects that are struggled over, as well as the means that enable actors to exercise power and influenceâ€ (Sakdapolrak, 2014, p. 20; Bourdieu, 1986). Not all resources are considered capital; rather, capitals are those resources over which people struggle, functioning as part of the "social relation of powerâ€ (Navarro, 2006, p. 17). The relative position (dominant or subordinate) of individuals within a given field is determined by the possession of capital and gaining power is achieved by gaining valued forms of capital.
Bourdieu identifies four primary capital forms. Economic capital is the material and economic resources available to people which are valued within a given system, such as money, land, or material assets. While economic capital is often considered dominant, its importance and prominence is often challenged by actors within the field who may possess less economic capital, but more of other types of capital. Social capital refers to the social network of friends, family, and other relations or acquaintances that support individuals. Social capital is not merely about social relationships and status, but also about an individualâ€™s access to other forms of capital via these relationships. Cultural capital is a more nebulous concept but is essentially that which will define a person as cultivated or not within a given system: the traits and dispositions that are valued. Bourdieu identifies three dimensions of cultural capital: (1) embodied, which is essentially the cultural tastes, qualities, or habitus an individual develops through social exposure and which are valued
within a field, (2) objectified, which consists of actual physical objects that hold meaning and convey cultural capital, and (3) institutionalized, which consists primarily of institutional recognition or credentials (1986, p. 47). Lastly, symbolic capital can be understood as the amassing of the three previous forms of capital and how they are valued and considered legitimate within the system (Wacquant & Bourdieu, 1992).
In understanding empowerment, the concept of capital is very important. The process of gaining the capacity to make choices and take action necessarily means an increase in power; if it is the different forms of capital that are available to an individual which define their place in the field, i.e., the social hierarchy, then in order to change oneâ€™s position, one must gain valued capital. This could happen through gaining valued capitals or by changing the field so that it values new capitals. An example of the former could be in economic terms, such as increasing oneâ€™s income, or social terms, through increased network relationships. It could also be in cultural or symbolic terms, in which one gains the traits or dispositions that are valued. In terms of the latter, "capital does not have an intrinsic value [in and of itself], but rather its value is linked to the logics of the fieldâ€ (Sakdapolrak, 2014, p. 22; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 2006). Based on the variable nature of capital worth in relation to a particular field, power can also be gained by shifting or changing the type of capital that is valued to one that is more favorable to oneself; social actors, especially subordinate ones, may attempt to redefine what type of capital is valued in order to elevate themselves. Each of these offer different, yet often interconnected, pathways towards gaining more power and can provide insight into how individuals become more empowered within a system. This project identified the different types of capital participants gain as a result of their participation in the program.
Doxa. Bourdieuâ€™s concept of doxa speaks to the social norms and rules that define the social system. Every social system has norms and rules that establish and define what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, delineating the boundaries of what is possible.
An important aspect of doxa is that it often goes unnoticed and unquestioned; the norms and rules of social systems are common-sense, the right and normal, which masks "the naturalization of its own arbitrariness,â€ making it a potent means of social control (1977, p. 164). Doxa can only be questioned and changed when it is made visible, so people can see the arbitrariness of it and challenge it (ibid., p. 168).
This has important implications for understanding empowerment. First, it is important to recognize that people operate under existing norms and rules that often go unnoticed and unquestioned and that guide the choices that they make. These norms and rules become deeply embedded in an individual (as habitus) and are considered natural, which leads individuals to participate in social systems and relationships that are discriminatory. This "internalized oppressionâ€ leads people to internalize their own lesser worth, believing it to be natural, and perpetuate the same rules and norms (Kabeer, 1999; Rowlands, 1997, p. 11). The way in which social systems (doxa) become naturalized and internalized (habitus) means that it is incredibly difficult for people to conceive of alternatives. However, it is also important in that it is through making doxa visible that people can begin to change the system (Kabeer, 1999). By understanding these norms and rules as being socially constructed, people can begin to redefine what is possible. The awareness that people gain and the ways in which they begin to challenge previously taken-for-granted systems in their lives is an important part of empowerment and were considered throughout this research.
I used Bourdieuâ€™s theories to explore how individuals are socially structured into certain positions and how they as agents can alter their position. Bourdieuâ€™s concepts of field and capital provided a framework for understanding how power is constituted and distributed. The concept of capital was especially pertinent to this research; if an individualâ€™s position in a social field is defined in large part by the different forms of capital they have access to, then any changes in capital should theoretically change oneâ€™s position in the social field. A key piece of analyzing the process of empowerment among participants was to identify any new capital they had gained arising from being in the program. Additionally, a consideration of doxa is important to understanding empowerment; did participants develop a greater awareness of the systems that affect their lives and did they begin to challenge them?
Power & Empowerment: Combining Bourdieu and Rowlands
Bourdieuâ€™s framework is valuable for understanding empowerment because it provides a deep understanding of power and how individuals are situated within larger social fields. However, it is insufficient for analyzing the individual and collective processes through which particular people in particular circumstances gain power. While Bourdieu allows space for the "transformative potential of habitusâ€ (Yang, 2014) within his theoretical framing, he provides no theoretical constructs for conceptualizing change at an individual level. His focus on how capitals serve to socially situate people is inadequate for describing internal shifts experienced by individuals that motivate them to act, as well as collective efforts in which people work together for their mutual benefit.
To understand these aspects of empowerment more clearly, this project combined Bourdieuâ€™s theory with Rowlandsâ€™ framework of power. Rowlandâ€™s framework, with its
four power types, was useful for analyzing personal changes that participants experience in their lives. The four power types helped to conceptualize and organize this space of change, which Bourdieu acknowledges, but his theoretical constructs do not address. Importantly, the use of Rowlandsâ€™ framework provides space for considering collective action [power with] and internal changes in oneâ€™s sense of self [power within]. Changes in these dimensions are fundamental to a full understanding of empowerment but are not part of Bourdieuâ€™s theoretical account. The integration of Bourdieu with Rowlandsâ€™ framework of power enabled me to analyze both how participants gained in power socially, as described by Bourdieu, as well as describe the more personal changes in power that participants experienced within their daily lives.
Research Question & Conceptual Framework
This research explored the question: How does participation in a training program on urban agriculture facilitate individual and collective empowerment among participants? To answer this question I conducted a mixed-methods ethnographic study with individuals who had participated in AGRUPARâ€™s urban agriculture program. I wanted to understand how becoming an urban agricultural producer with the program affected their lives, the changes they experienced, and most importantly, how participation contributed to empowerment. Combining Bourdieuâ€™s theory of practice with Rowlandsâ€™ framework, this research provides a deep analysis of how participation in AGRUPAR increases their capital, helping to reposition them in their respective fields and the personal changes in power they experience within their personal lives.
Research Aims Background Information
In order to understand the process of empowerment among AGRUPAR members, I collected background information about the program. I describe the program, including its principles, its organization, its practices, and how it aids participants. I also provide a description of the program participants using demographic information gained while conducting fieldwork. This foundation provides the background for understanding the program and its people.
Research Aim 1
The first aim was to describe what participants gained by participating in AGRUPAR's program. While an organization cannot itself empower people, outside organizations can play an important role in the empowerment process by acting as catalysts for change, encouraging new development (Mosedale, 2003). To understand the gains that participants make by participating in AGRUPARâ€™s training program, I asked the following questions:
RQ 1.1: What are the knowledge, skills, and resources participants gain through participation in AGRUPAR?
RQ 1.2: How does participation in AGRUPARâ€™s program increase participantsâ€™ economic, cultural, social, and symbolic capital?
Research Aim 2
The second research aim was to identify encouraging and inhibiting factors to participation in urban agriculture. In her work on empowerment with women in Honduras, Rowlands (1997) contextualizes the process by identifying factors that work to encourage empowerment (encouraging factors) and factors that inhibit it (inhibiting factors).2 The research questions for this were:
2 This research aim was initially framed in terms of analyzing the social field and the contextual value of urban agriculture, and, ultimately, how these factors impacted a participantâ€™s potential for empowerment. However, as fieldwork progressed and I got the opportunity to do a survey, I decided to focus my data collection and analysis on the other research aims, which are more essential for understanding empowerment. I still address
RQ 2.1: What are the personal, relational, organizational, institutional, and cultural factors that encourage participation in urban agriculture?
RQ 2.2: What are the personal, relational, organizational, institutional, and cultural factors that inhibit participation in urban agriculture?
Research Aim 3
The final research aim was to describe the different forms of power gained through participation in the program. While Bourdieu provides the theoretical constructs for understanding how participants gain power within their social fields, the use of Rowlandsâ€™ forms of power provides a framework for analyzing the specific changes in power individuals experience within the context of their daily lives. The questions for this aim were:
RQ 3.1: Do individuals increase their power over, power to, and power within? If so, how?
RQ 3.2: Do participants work together as a group (power with)? If so, how?
The research design for this study is ethnographic, using multiple methods embedded in long-term research in the community. An ethnographic approach enabled me to build upon existing knowledge by developing a rich, in-depth understanding of the relationship of urban agriculture and empowerment from the perspective of the people
this research aim by describing the encouraging and inhibiting factors in the results chapter, but focus my discussion chapter on the other research aims.
directly involved in it. I used both quantitative and qualitative methods: a survey, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. The combination of these methods provided a fuller understanding of the subject than any could independently. The use of multiple methods helped balance the strengths and weaknesses of the individual methods and made the data collected more robust and meaningful (Esterberg, 2002; Oâ€™Dwyer & Bernauer, 2014).
There were five primary phases in my research process: quantitative data collection, qualitative data collection, quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and integration.
Figure 1 displays the research process. The quantitative and qualitative pieces of the research were integrated at two points in the research, first during the data collection phase and then again once data analysis had been completed independently for each component. During the data collection phase, I began my fieldwork by piloting and then conducting the survey. After I had completed a majority of surveys, I used the preliminary findings to inform the development of my interview guide and then began conducting interviews. During the analysis phase of research, I analyzed the quantitative and qualitative data independently from one another then integrated the findings for a more robust interpretation of the research concepts.
The use of quantitative and qualitative methods helped me develop a more robust understanding of the empowerment process than either approach could have on its own. The quantitative data I gathered with the survey provided me with a big picture understanding of specific empowerment measures within the population at large and allowed me to explore variation in these measures among different types of participants.
Figure 1: Research Process
Conversely, the qualitative data from the interviews provided rich, in-depth descriptions of how specific individuals experienced empowerment, providing the "voiceâ€ behind the "numbersâ€ (Watkins & Gioia, 2015). Further, collecting data from two different methodological perspectives enabled me to provide AGRUPAR with a detailed report that they can use to inform and guide program efforts (Oviatt, 2016).
Data Collection Survey
The first stage of research was the quantitative phase in which I conducted a survey to gather empowerment measures among a diverse group of AGRUPAR participants. The WEAI was used as a reference for framing questions regarding empowerment and agriculture and for empowerment concepts in the context of agriculture. The survey was designed in partnership with AGRUPARâ€™s director and the director of Triple Salto, an NGO that partners with AGRUPAR, to ensure that it was contextually coherent and that it would be informative for them (see Appendix A for the survey).
The survey used a descriptive, cross-sectional design. With data collected at only one point in time, between January and July of 2015, the survey was intended to gather descriptive data to help me understand the characteristics of AGRUPAR participants and the phenomenon of empowerment (Oâ€™Dwyer & Bernauer, 2014). The survey collected self-report data from AGRUPAR participants; their responses reflect individual perception of participation in the program and the perceived changes they experienced as a result.
The survey was organized according to the aforementioned domains of empowerment that have been identified in the literature as important (pg. 51), as well as some domains unique to the practices and goals of AGRUPAR. Using these domains to categorize the changes participants experienced was important for this research for two reasons. First, empowerment does not occur simultaneously or evenly in all areas of a personâ€™s life. Rather, a person may make gains in some areas but not others, so it is important to consider change in different areas of life. Second, these domains were used to help guide data collection and narrow the focus to domains identified as particularly salient for empowerment in the context of AGRUPARâ€™s work. The domains include:
â€¢ Economic: Identified as an important dimension of empowerment. This research explored how participants gained economically, how this varied among participants, and the effects that this had in their lives.
â€¢ Interpersonal: Because power is fundamentally relational, change in relationships has been identified as a primary dimension of empowerment.
As part of this research, I explored how participantsâ€™ relationships changed, new relationships they developed, how they worked with others, and challenges they experienced in these relationships.
â€¢ Individual: Empowerment is a deeply personal process that meaningfully changes a personâ€™s sense of self. This research explored the personal changes that participants experienced and how this changed their sense of themselves as agents.
â€¢ Health: A primary part of AGRUPARâ€™s mission is to improve the health of its participants and their families. It is a primary area of change, as participants gain a great deal of knowledge and skills in this area. This has meaningful effects in their lives relevant to empowerment in the context of AGRUPAR.
â€¢ Environment: AGRUPAR is dedicated to promoting organic, agro-ecological agricultural methods and educating participants about environmental issues associated with conventional agriculture. This is also an area in which participants realize meaningful changes, which contribute to their empowerment in this context.
Within each of these domains of change, the survey was designed using concepts from Bourdieuâ€™s and Rowlandsâ€™ theoretical frameworks. The survey data address Research Aim 1 by asking about changes in economic capital (through gains in income and savings), social capital (through increased social networks), and cultural capital (through credentials gained). The survey addresses Research Aim 3 by providing data about changes in Rowlandsâ€™ various powers: power over (through decision-making and control over resources), power to (through gains in skills and knowledge), power with (through membership in groups and collective action), and power within (through gains in confidence, happiness, and satisfaction). The survey also included questions about the challenges that participants faced to address Research Aim 2. See Appendix E for the
Concepts & Methods Table, which describes how data from each method was utilized to answer each research aim.
Survey sample selection. The primary population for this research was individuals who were participating in AGRUPARâ€™s urban agriculture training program. Sampling occurred in two stages: an initial random sample for inclusion in the survey, followed by a purposive sub-sample within the survey population to participate in in-depth interviews.
In the first stage of sample selection for survey participants, I used AGRUPARâ€™s participant data from their 2013 census as the sampling frame. In 2013, AGRUPAR performed a detailed registry of all their participating gardens in order to understand the profile of their program, including information on garden size, garden products, size of group, number of beneficiaries, etc. The census registered 689 gardens with the total of 3473 participants (an average of 5 people per garden). At the time of my research (2015), this registry was the most current and comprehensive account of participants, providing a valuable resource from which to select participating gardens. Using the census as the sample frame required sampling by garden rather than by participant; the census data were collected for each garden and the people associated with the garden were simply a variable in the survey (i.e., there were x number of people associated with the garden). Using the census data, I was able to do a simple random sample by garden. I used the Excel random number command to select 200 gardens, representing approximately 29% of
AGRUPARâ€™s gardens and roughly 6% of the study population.3 According to Fraenkel et al. (2011), a minimum of 100 individuals should be sampled for descriptive studies. Because I had the time and the capacity to reach a greater number, I selected more to help ensure more participants from minority groups (e.g., men or bioferia sellers) would be represented in the sample and strengthen the generalizability of the findings to the population at large.
Because the lack of demographic data in the census did not permit sampling by individual participants, individuals were selected using what was essentially a convenience sample; the survey was conducted with whomever was present at the garden when we arrived. My final sample included 192 surveys; in eight cases, an individual for the selected garden could either not be reached (4), provided incomplete responses (3) or refused (1). All survey participants had been in the program for at least one year and had completed the training program.
In terms of representation, the characteristics of gardens in my sample (not participants) mirror the gardens in the census in most areas. Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of the sample gardens compared to AGRUPAR gardens as a whole. Because the data in the census is compiled by garden there were no data available on the demographic details of participants, thus it is unknown how demographically
3 Because the census information was over a year old, some of the gardens were no longer participating in the program; of the original 200 gardens, 24 had to be substituted. In these cases, I worked with the agronomists to select a substitute garden that was similar to the original in terms of size, production, and location.
representative survey participants are of the AGRUPAR population at large. Table 7 (Sample Demography Summary with Charts) in the section on Participant Description provides a summary of survey participant demographic characteristics.
Table 1: Sample Garden Characteristics
Sample Gardens Total Gardens
Gender (# of male/female participants associated with a garden] Female 66% (n=635) 67% (n=2326)
Male 34% (n=328) 33% (n=1147)
Calderon 12% (n=23) 10% (n=69)
Centro 5% (n=10) 6% (n=43)
Eloy Alfaro 9% (n=18) 11% (n=76)
City Zone La Delicia 8% (n=16) 9% (n=59)
Los Chillos 24% (n=47) 19% (n=130)
Norte 12% (n=23) 13% (n=91)
Quitumbe 23% (n=45) 26% (n=179)
Tumbaco 5% (n=10) 6% (n=42)
100m2 or smaller 47% (n=91) 49% (n=333)
101-300m2 28% (n=54) 26% (n=181)
Garden Size 301-600m2 12% (n=23) 12% (n=85)
601-900m2 4% fn=8) 5% (n=33)
901m2 or larger 8% (n=16) 7% (n=46)
Small Business 44% (n=84) 41% (n=281)
Fresh Produce 92% (n=77) 91% (n=255)
Products Sold Animal Products 45% (n=38) 45% (n=127)
Inputs 13% (n=ll) 9% (n=27)
Honey Products 7% (n=6) 10% (n=29)
Infrastructure Greenhouse 53% (n=102) 49% (n=337)
Irrigation System 35% (n=67) 50% (n=343)
Conducting the survey. I began administering surveys at the end of January 2015. I dedicated two weeks to pilot testing the survey and making necessary changes. I used this as an opportunity to assess participant comprehension of the survey questions, question wording and order, survey layout, and measured the time it took to administer.
The sample gardens were split among the six agronomists (tecnicos) on staff. I provided each tecnico with a list of the gardens in their administrative zone and planned in advance which days I would travel with them. I would travel with the tecnicos as they visited the gardens under their care. Surveys were typically done either in the garden or the home of participants. I personally conducted each survey to ensure that they were done appropriately and consistently.
In most cases, the survey took 20 - 25 minutes to administer. Prior to beginning each survey, I asked participants where they would be most comfortable speaking and suggested a private space. I also gave them and read to them a COMIRB approved consent form to ensure that they understood that their participation was voluntary and that they did not have to respond if they did not want to, etc. To protect the privacy of participants, I designed the survey so that the first page of the survey, which contained identifying information (i.e., garden name, neighborhood, demographic information), could be stored separately from the rest of the survey. I assigned each survey a unique ID number, writing the ID on both the front page and the rest of the survey. Once the survey was complete, I separated the front page with the identifying information from the rest of the survey and stored them in separate storage areas.
The administration of the survey was successful because, with the assistance of the tecnicos, I was able to reach nearly every garden for a 96% response rate. Also, because I personally conducted each survey, I am confident that they were done thoroughly and consistently. This also limited any researcher bias that could occur when a survey is administered by multiple people. I was also able to build rapport with participants, which
was advantageous when it came time to do the interviews; participants were already familiar with me and were typically happy I wanted to talk further with them.
To gain a comprehensive, personal understanding of how participation in AGRUPAR had changed participants, I conducted in-depth interviews with a variety of participants. Interviews are useful for gaining insight into peopleâ€™s experiences and how they understand or interpret events or experiences, generating a bottom up perspective of a given phenomenon (Watkins & Gioia, 2015).
The interviews were semi-structured; a consistent set of questions was used but responses were open-ended. The semi-structured format was chosen because I wanted to ensure that interviews were structured enough to be consistent and comparable, producing more focused data, while also allowing flexibility to follow emergent themes (Schensul, Schensul, & LeCompte, 1999). Open-ended questions allowed participants to freely elaborate upon their answers and express their points of view, while enabling me to pursue new leads as the conversation progressed (Bernard, 2006; Patton, 2002). The interview was designed to move from less sensitive to more sensitive topics in order to build rapport, although the semi-structured form allowed me to modify the sequencing of questions to adapt to each conversation (Watkins & Gioia, 2015).
Interview questions were developed using the same domains as the survey, described above. Interview topics broadly included personal history, participation in AGRUPAR, economic changes, social changes, family changes, personal changes, health, and environment. As with the survey, within each of these domains I explored how participants gained in the capitals identified by Bourdieu (Research Aim 1) and the powers identified by
Rowlands (Research Aim 3). Participants were asked to describe economic gains they had made and the effects this had in their lives (economic capital) and changes in their relationships (social capital). They were also asked to describe changes in personal power, including changes in their role in the household and control over resources [power over], gains in knowledge and skills and how these gains changed them [power to], how they worked with others [power with], and how they as indivdiuals had changed [power within]. They were also asked to describe challenges they had faced since joining the program to address Research Aim 2. See Appendix B for a copy of the interview guide and Appendix E for the Concepts & Methods Table, describing how data from the interview was utilized to answer each research aim.
Interview sample selection. After the majority of the surveys had been completed, a sub-sample within the survey population was selected to participate in the in-depth interview. At this stage of the research, a quota sampling approach was used to ensure that variation within the study population was captured by purposively selecting participants to represent specific, pre-defined subsections of the population (Bernard, 2006; Oâ€™Dwyer & Bernauer, 2014; Schensul et al., 1999). Quota sampling was useful because it ensured that the "full range of behavior, attitudes, and opinionsâ€ (Schensul etal., 1999, p. 246) was captured, providing a comprehensive understanding of how empowerment occurred among participants and how it varied among people from different backgrounds. The quota sample captured variation in gender, age, and selling status (see Table 2). These characteristics were selected because they have been identified in previous studies as influencing the practice of urban agriculture and empowerment (van Veenhuizen, 2006). Additionally, in my preliminary analysis of survey results, gender and selling status
appeared to influence empowerment measures. In considering gender, the majority of the empowerment literature focuses solely on women. In this study, however, both men and women were included for a number of reasons. The first reason is that empowerment is not inherently limited to women; it can happen to any disadvantaged group (Samman & Santos, 2009). Men who participate in AGRUPARâ€™s program are given the same information and resources as women, which means that the program has the potential to effect changes in their lives as well. Also, the inclusion of men enabled me to compare how experiences differ between men and women and how empowerment varied by gender.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 AGRUPAR participants: 12 female and 6 male. However, only 17 interviews were included in the final analysis, as one interview was removed due to issues with the recording and, thus, did not yield enough data to be informative. While there is no definite number that guarantees the sample size is large enough to adequately represent the study population, the goal was to include enough people to reach the "informational saturation pointâ€ (Schensul et al., 1999, p. 262) where little to no new information is generated about a subject during data collection. This point is reached when there is "sufficient redundancyâ€ (Trotter & Schensul, 1998) in the data and indicates the sample size is adequate. Research by Guest et al. (2006) indicates that in order to achieve saturation when researching a relatively homogenous group, approximately twelve interviews should be sufficient. However, because I used a quota sampling approach, I chose to conduct more interviews to ensure each group was adequately represented.
Table 2 depicts the sample of interviewees. The table provides a summary of the composition of the sample population, including the targeted goal based on quota sampling
and the number of interviews actually completed within each category. Of the twenty participants originally selected for the interview sample, two of them could not be contacted.
Table 2: Interviewee Sample Selection
Female Participants Target: 13 Completed: 12
Age: 20-29 Target: 2 Completed: 1 Age: 30-54 Target: 8 Completed: 8 Age: 55+ Target: 3 Completed: 3
Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 1 Completed:0 Sells Target: 1 Completed:! Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 2 Completed: 2 Sells Target: 6 Completed:6 Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 1 Completed: 1 Sells Target: 2 Completed: 2
Male Participants Target: 7 Completed: 6
Age: 20-29 Target: 1 Completed: 0 (0%) Age: 3 Targ Completec 0-54 st: 2 : 2 (33%} Age: 55+ Target: 4 Completed: 4 (67%)
Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 0 Completed: 0 Sells Target: 1 Completed:0 Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 1 Completed: 1 Sells Target: 1 Completed:! Doesnâ€™t Sell Target: 1 Completed: 1 Sells Target: 3 Completed: 3
Table 3 compares the sample to the survey population as a whole. Compared to the survey population, males are slightly over-represented in the sample as a result of the quota sampling approach. However, the ratio of males and females in my interview sample corresponds perfectly with the ratio of men and women in the program as a whole, as documented in the 2013 census.
Conducting the interviews. Most of the interviews were between an hour and an hour and a half in length, long enough for a thorough discussion but short enough to avoid interview fatigue. All interviews were conducted in Spanish. Interviews were typically
Table 3: Interviewee Sample Characteristics
Sample Survey Population
Gender Female 67% (n=12) 84% fn=161)
Male 33% fn=6] 16% fn=31)
20-29 6% fn=l] 6% fn=9)
Age: Female 30-54 44% (n=8) 52% fn=99)
55+ 17% (n=3) 28% fn=54)
20-29 0% fn=0] .5% fn=l)
Age: Male 30-54 11% fn=2] 4% fn=7)
55+ 22% 0=4) 12% fn=23)
Selling Status: Sells 50% fn=9) 65% (n=124)
Female Does not sell 17% fn=3) 19% fn=37)
Selling Status: Sells 22% 0=4) 10% (n=19)
Male Does not sell 11% fn=2) 6% fn=12)
conducted in the privacy of the intervieweeâ€™s home or garden to make participation easy and comfortable. As with the survey, a COMIRB approved consent form was given to them to read and was read aloud to ensure that participants understood their rights and the expectations of participation. I took detailed notes throughout the interviews and recorded the conversations using a handheld recording device, with participant permission, to guarantee that I would have accurate documentation of each interview. To ensure that participantsâ€™ responses were confidential, I used a de-identified code for each interview and removed any identifying information from my transcriptions.
AGRUPAR Staff Interviews
In addition to urban agricultural participants, individuals from AGRUPARâ€™s staff representing different areas within the organization were interviewed to gain an organizational perspective of urban agriculture. Interviews with the staff were semi-structured with open-ended responses. Aware that staff have many demands on their time, I designed the interviews to be focused and brief, able to be completed in approximately
half an hour. Included in these interviews were the director and two agronomists. See Appendices C & D for a copy of the interview guides.
To gain an understanding of the context and practice of urban agriculture, I also used participant observation. Participant observation is when a researcher joins a community or group and takes part in everyday activities (Agar, 1996; Bourgois, 1995). Participant observation is a commonly used ethnographic method because it gives the researcher a firsthand understanding of the lived reality of the study groupâ€™s members.
The use of participant observation has a number of important advantages over other qualitative methods. It allows the researcher to develop an increased understanding of the context within which people live. Participant observation also gives the researcher an opportunity to see things that may be overlooked by the people themselves (Patton, 2002). Furthermore, the things that people discuss in interviews may be selective or only provide a partial understanding of an issue (Patton, 2002). The researcher can gain a more comprehensive understanding of context with participant observation by comparing data gathered in interviews with what they are seeing and doing on-the-ground. This also improves the validity of qualitative research by enabling the researcher to triangulate interview or survey data with observation. Also, because it helps the researcher build rapport and familiarizes research participants with the researcher, it helps to lower "reactivityâ€ or the chance that people will change their behavior because they are being studied. Participant observation also familiarizes the researcher with the context and allows them to ask questions that make sense to participants, which makes the data more meaningful (Bernard, 2006, p. 354).
There are many roles a researcher can take in participant observation based on the degree to which one engages with the study population; my role was a participating observer as outsider who participates in some aspects of the study populationâ€™s life (Bernard, 2006, p. 347). I spent a great deal of time actively engaging with people; I worked at bioferias, helped participants dig garden beds, plant seeds, harvest products, and sat side-by-side with them in training courses. This level of engagement helped me to develop a contextual understanding of urban agriculture as it is lived and experienced by participants. Throughout these experiences, I documented observational data on activities, individuals involved, and conversations in detailed field notes.
Appendix E has the Concepts & Methods Table, which describes how data from each method was utilized to answer each research aim.
Data analysis was done in three stages: preliminary survey analysis to inform the interview questions, detailed survey analysis, and interview analysis. Based on my research design, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses were completed largely independently of one another. However, there was some mixing, i.e.,"the explicit interrelating of a studyâ€™s quantitative and qualitative phasesâ€ (Watkins & Gioia, 2015, p. 112) during the data collection phase, as the preliminary results of the survey were used to inform the development of interview questions. Data were then integrated for interpretation (see below).
Survey data were analyzed using Stata 11.1. Prior to the analysis, the data were cleaned and recoded to address any errors in data input. In this process, three surveys
were removed from analysis due to missing data. Because the intent of the survey was to understand empowerment trends among participants, the analysis is descriptive, including frequency distributions and averages to summarize the patterns in the data. For each variable I analyzed the frequency of each response and the mean. I then compared how these varied based on gender, selling status, and education, to understand how empowerment measures varied among participants. My final analysis of the survey data gave me an understanding of how these specific measures of empowerment manifest themselves among the participants and how they vary among the different types of participants.
Analysis of the interviews began after fieldwork was completed. They were fully transcribed and then analyzed using the qualitative analysis software Dedoose (Dedoose, 2018). To gain a comprehensive understanding of my interview data, I used multiple coding strategies. I first used an emergent, open coding strategy to develop data-driven codes and conceptual categories, following with theoretical coding using the pre-defined theoretical concepts from Bourdieu and the empowerment literature.
In the first stage, I separated the data according to the domains of change I used to frame empowerment and construct my interview guide (health, environment, economic, interpersonal, and individual). Within these broad domains, I used an emergent, open coding strategy, developing new codes that emerged from the data (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). This process generated new codes that "capture[d] and synthesize[d] the main themesâ€ of the data (Thornberg & Charmaz, 2013, p. 159). Using an emergent, open coding framework at this stage allowed me to identify new concepts that were not necessarily part
of the empowerment framework I developed prior to fieldwork. I used this same process to analyze the memos I wrote based on participant observation.
In the second stage of analysis I used a priori coding to apply the theoretical and conceptual constructs I identified in my conceptual framework before I began research. Prior to coding, I developed a codebook with clearly defined codes drawn from Bourdieuâ€™s theory of practice and the empowerment literature to ensure consistency when coding (Schensul et al., 1999). See Tables 4 - 6 for code descriptions.
Table 4: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 1
Economic â€¢ Earnings or savings â€¢ Valuable material goods â€¢ Purchasing power: ability to purchase or pay for
Social â€¢ Bonding: Relationships with family & friends o How family worked together / supported participant o Friendships with others in program / how supported one another â€¢ Bridging: Relationships with others in community / program o New relationships with others in community o How working in community o New relationships with others in program o How work with formal networks of producers â€¢ Linking: Relationships with people in authority o Relationship with AGRUPAR employees o Relationship with government authorities o Relationship with leaders in community
Cultural â€¢ Objectified o Objects with symbolic meaning o Objects with status / prestige â€¢ Institutionalized o Institutional credentials â€¢ Embodied â€¢ Valued habitus (ways of being and doing that are esteemed)
Symbolic â€¢ NA: Not defined a priori
Table 5: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 2
Personal â€¢ Individual factors: habits, experience, schedule, abilities, skills
Relational â€¢ Relational factors: kind of support from friends/family, conflict, access to expertise
Organizational â€¢ AGRUPAR: kind of support given to participants, challenges faced by tecnicos, financial / political constraints
Institutional â€¢ Role of city government: supportive / restrictive policies or regulations, financial / material support provided
Cultural â€¢ Cultural factors: value placed on organic products, gender norms, cultural beliefs/traditions
Table 6: Code Descriptions for Research Aim 3
Power Type Description
Power Over â€¢ Decision-making authority o Able to make decisions on their own â€¢ Control over resources o Has authority over income / other resources â€¢ Influence o Able to influence decisions within the household o In leadership position in formal groups
Power To â€¢ Skills o Gain in technical skills (farming related] o Gain in skills/competency in general â€¢ Knowledge o Increased understand / subject knowledge o Problem solving skills / critical thinking â€¢ Ability to Act o Knowledge/awareness of public services o Knowledge/awareness of political/legal processes
Power With â€¢ Membership o Part of a formal group â€¢ Working Together o How help one another o Collective action towards shared goals
Power Within â€¢ Positive self image o Increased self-esteem / confidence o Pride â€¢ Change in sense of self o Greater autonomy o Self-reliance o Challenging norms / ideas of inferiority