The Relational Basis of Empowerment

Exploring how fundamental human attitudes underpin society's approach to empowering disabled people.

Authors: Karl Nunkoosing and Mark Haydon-Laurelut

People with intellectual disabilities cannot be empowered by people who reject them, nor by people who believe that others will reject them. The only empowering approach combines acceptance and optimism. 

Increased regulation, more powerful management or a growing mountain of policy will not begin to shift the abusive and disempowering culture that is prevalent in so many human services. We must ask ourselves some more fundamental questions about what we are doing. Special systems, segregation and professional training regimes so often fail to underline the positive role that disabled people play in our society and their fundamental and non-negotiable rights.

This essay helps us to understand the basic human attitudes that underpin empowerment or which can cause various kinds of disempowerment. This essay is the second in The Need for Roots Series, which aims to connect thinkers from diverse traditions in exploring how we can respect diversity while embracing the fundamental equality of all human beings.

Read and download the free pdf in your browser here.

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

The Relational Basis of Empowerment © Karl Nunkoosing and Mark Haydon-Laurelut 2013.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.


Paper | 28.07.13

faith & creativity, intellectual disabilities, Need for Roots, politics, social care, Global, Paper

Karl Nunkoosing PhD


Principal Lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth

Mark Haydon-Laurelut


Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Portsmouth

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