In the modern age, the trend is that individuals demand more and more participation and involvement in the social sphere. The global trend is that there is the growing aversion to power structures that inhibit and preclude the individual’s being involved in policy making, or in the proper exercise of their rights and interests. This is often translated to various manifestations of social instability. This has led to unrest and the toppling of governments that have not been keen on empowering their people. However, does this imply democratization or a shift to the form of government that is similar to western liberal democracies? This is not necessarily the case.
The empowerment of people is not rooted only or exclusive to the setup of western liberal democracies. So long as there is viable, stable and enriching social interaction in the society there is in the broadest and simplest sense people empowerment. The fundamental adversary of empowerment, from the perspective of the people, is when power structures like government and other social institutions dampen social interaction. It must be noted that this kind of interrelationship between individuals operates as a paradox. This is because it is highly relative and yet appeals and resonates to those who are involved as something that is shared in common.
There are, in fact, societies that are steeped in culture, and have a rich cultural milieu in which social interaction occurs and even thrives. In these cases, the people are empowered in the sense that their social interaction is both fulfilling to the self as it is contributory to the community. And yet these societies do not even have the setup of western liberal democracies. A society like that found in the China is as empowered as those found in Germany. The reason is that there is a healthy social interaction that is free from undue repression. The oppression of people and why they often lash out at regimes that commit the same is not because the regime is undemocratic. The sociological truth is that these regimes have disrupted social interaction, in one way or another.
There can be highly authoritarian governments that still retain a significant amount of people empowerment. This is possible when the course of government operation the authorities are careful not to hamper the social interaction in society. This means not adopting policies that inhibit the shared and yet unique points of convergence among individuals. In reality, this is a challenge in itself as governments of this nature are driven to control as much as they can in the social sphere.
So long as a community’s notions and symbols which are the focal points of social interaction remain unhindered, social interaction takes place on a normal basis. This, in turn, allows individuals’ unique views to permeate society and thus involve them in the natural discourse upon which society is built on. People empowerment is simply about expression, internalization of experiences and further expression. This is regardless of the context. So long as this is reflected in the community’s social life then there is empowerment through social interaction.