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Helen M. Haugh and Maggie O’Carroll

The chapter situates empowerment in the context of social innovation and societal change. The authors review the key empowerment and social innovation literature to identify their principal constructs and develop a novel framework to categorize empowerment research. The framework applies four empowerment constructs (being denied the ability to make choices, agency, access to resources and achievements) to personal, economic, social and political empowerment domains. The framework is illustrated with four case studies of socially innovative empowerment initiatives. Although generally perceived to be a gendered concept and analysed predominantly from a female perspective, the framework is applicable to inequalities faced by women and men in developed and developing countries. The authors outline some cautionary tales for empowerment researchers and conclude with suggestions for future empowerment and social innovation research.