American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 631–656 | Cite as

Organizational characteristics of empowering community settings: A multiple case study approach

  • Kenneth I. Maton
  • Deborah A. Salem


Although empowerment is often cited as a major guiding construct for community psychology, relatively little is known about the characteristics of empowering community settings. The current paper uses a multiple case study methodology to generate a number of key organizational characteristics of empowering community settings to guide future work in the area. In-depth, multilevel, longitudinal research was conducted on three empowering community settings: a religious fellowship, a mutual help organization for persons with severe mental illness, and an educational program for African American students. The organizational features found to characterize all three settings were (a) a belief system that inspires growth is strengths-based, and is focused beyond the self; (b) an opportunity role structure that is pervasive, highly accessible, and multifunctional (c) a support system that is encompassing, peer-based, and provides a sense of community; and (d) leadership that is inspiring, talented, shared, and committed to both setting and members. Limitations of the research are discussed, and directions for future research suggested.

Key words

empowerment empowering settings organizational characteristics community settings 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth I. Maton
    • 2
  • Deborah A. Salem
    • 1
  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyCatonsville

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