Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 4-21

First online:

Empowering Community Settings: Agents of Individual Development, Community Betterment, and Positive Social Change

  • Kenneth I. MatonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Email author 

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The pathways and processes through which empowering community settings influence their members, the surrounding community and the larger society are examined. To generate the proposed pathways and processes, a broad range of studies of community settings were reviewed, in the domains of adult well-being, positive youth development, locality development, and social change. A set of organizational characteristics and associated processes leading to member empowerment across domains were identified, as well as three pathways through which empowering settings in each domain contribute to community betterment and positive social change. The paper concludes with an examination of the ways that community psychology and allied disciplines can help increase the number and range of empowering settings, and enhance the community and societal impact of existing ones.


Empowering community settings Empowerment Organizational characteristics Adult well-being Positive youth development Locality development Community betterment Social change