Reimagining Intervention: Adaptive Preferences and the Paradoxes of Empowerment

Serene J. Khader

in Adaptive Preferences and Women's Empowerment

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199777884
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919055 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Reimagining Intervention: Adaptive Preferences and the Paradoxes of Empowerment

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This chapter discusses the conceptual problems with defining “women's empowerment” that have arisen in two types of gender and development interventions: microcredit interventions and interventions aimed at helping women question prevailing gender norms. Empowerment is typically thought of as the overcoming of adaptive preference, where adaptive preference is thought as the lack of some form of choice. This chapter argues that the concepts developed as part of the deliberative perfectionist approach can help us move beyond some of the paradoxes development theorists have identified in prevailing definitions of empowerment. It focuses on two families of conceptual problems that arise in attempts to operationalize empowerment: problems related to equating empowerment with choice and problems related to identifying states of empowerment and disempowerment.

Keywords: empowerment; empowerment; microcredit interventions; gender norms; choice; disempowerment

Chapter.  15615 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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