Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.
The idea of empowerment describes the learning curve whereby dominated social actors acquire greater social or political empowerment and reinforce their ability to act. This idea can be conceptualised in an agonistic perspective that underlines the balance of power and domination that structure society, or in a more consensual perspective according to which the gain in power for certain groups implies self-improvement more than a modification of the balance of power with other groups.
Sociological empowerment often addresses members of groups that social discrimination processes have excluded from decision-making processes through - for example - discrimination based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Empowerment as a methodology is often associated with feminism: see consciousness-raising.