Empowerment in Community Organizing

The Empowerment in Community Organizing scale is a 27-item measure that ask respondents their opinions on statements that address cognitive (e.g., perceptions of power), emotional (e.g., political competency), and behavioral dimensions (e.g., acts of civic participation) of empowerment in the context of community organizing.


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


Dimension: Cognitive Empowerment
Subscale 1: Power is developed through relationships
1. I can have power in my community only by working in an organized way with other people.
2. Power is collective, not individual.
3. Power lies in the relationships among people.
4. A person becomes powerful through other people.
5. The only way I can have power is by connecting to others.

Subscale 2: Political Functioning
6. Public officials make decisions to please those with power.
7. Things happen in my community because those with power reward their friends.
8. The powerful punish their enemies.
9. The powerful control what information gets to the public.
10. Many issues are kept out of the news by those with power.

Subscale 3: Shaping Ideology
11. What a community talks about depends on what residents are interested in.
12. Struggles always occur to determine what issues a community focuses on.
13. Community perceptions depend on the quality of individuals in that community.
14. How people think about community problems controls what is done about those problems.

Dimension: Emotional Empowerment
Subscale 1: Perceived leadership competence
15. I am often a leader in groups.
16. I would prefer to be a leader rather than a follower.
17. I would rather someone else took over the leadership role when I'm involved in a group project.

Subscale 2: Political Efficacy
18. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the important political issues that confront our society.
19. People like me are generally well qualified to participate in the political activity and decision making in our country.
20. Sometimes politics and government seem so complicated that a person like me can't really understand what's going on.

Dimension: Behavioral Empowerment Scale
21. Signed a petition.
22. Wrote a letter or made a telephone call to influence a policy or issue.
23. Attended an event promoting information about community services.
24. Arranged an agenda for a public meeting.
25. Had an in-depth, face-to-face conversation about an issue affecting your community.
26. Attended a public meeting to press for a policy change.
27. Attended a meeting to gather information about a neighborhood issue.

Response options:
Not specified.

Scoring Procedures

Not Available

Original Citation

Speer, P. W., & Peterson, N. A. (2000). Psychometric properties of an empowerment scale: Testing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral domains. Social Work Research, 24(2), 109-118. doi:10.1093/swr/24.2.109

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Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








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