Mechanisms for mobile phone use in empowerment: A critical realist study of people with disabilities in Nigeria



The concept of empowerment is broad and often used without a clear conceptualization (Pandey & Zheng, 2019). Several scholars have defined
empowerment to achieve their various purposes (Rappaport, 1987; Zimmerman, 1995). For example, Somerville (1998) and Narayan (2005) refer
to empowerment as any process whereby people (individuals or groups) can gain increased control over their lives and such a control enables
self-confidence, self-direction, autonomy, and self-worthwhen it comes to individuals (Narayan, 2005, p. 3). To Rappaport (1987) empowerment
suggests a process by which people, organizations and communities gain mastery over issues of concern to them whether those be events, out-
comes or resources. While focusing on an individual level of analysis, Zimmerman (1995) noted that empowerment is an open-ended construct
that is irreducible to a universal set of operational rules and definitions. This is because empowerment (a) manifests itself in different perceptions,
skills, and behaviors across people; (b) different beliefs, competencies and actions may be required to master various settings; and (c) these may
fluctuate over time(Pandey & Zheng, 2019, p. 84). Therefore, central to the concept of empowerment are elements that are dynamic and inter-
connected; thus, a well-defined understanding is required to clarify its meaning in this study

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