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When is a theory a theory? A case example

Abstract

This discussion comments on the approximately 20years history of writings on the prescriptive theory called Empowerment Evaluation. To do so, involves examining how "Empowerment Evaluation Theory" has been defined at various points of time (particularly 1996 and now in 2015). Defining a theory is different from judging the success of a theory. This latter topic has been addressed elsewhere by Michael Scriven, Michael Patton, and Brad Cousins. I am initially guided by the work of Robin Miller (2010) who has written on the issue of how to judge the success of a theory. In doing so, she provided potential standards for judging the adequacy of theories. My task is not judging the adequacy or success of the Empowerment Evaluation prescriptive theory in practice, but determining how well the theory is delineated. That is, to what extent do the writings qualify as a prescriptive theory.

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