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Finding the spaces for change a Power Analysis, IDS Bulletin.

Author(s):  John Gaventa
Publication Date:  2006

This IDS Bulletin begins by recognizing that in spite of the emerging new spaces and opportunities for citizen engagement in policy processes, questions still remain as to whether these new spaces actually impact power disparities sufficiently in order to improve pro-poor policy. The author reflects on his own experiences with power analysis and presents an approach which has helped his work; The Power Cube. The article presents a visual on the approach, which acts as a framework for the analysis of power in a given situation. The approach analyses power under the following topics:

  • Levels – Global, National and local.
  • Spaces – Closed, Invited and Claimed/Created
  • Forms – Invisible, Visible and Hidden.

The article discusses how each of the above factors is individually important, while also highlighting the fact that the interrelationships between them are also of critical importance.

The article concludes that the approach can be used by actors to reflect on where and how they tackle power issues and how they work across boundaries with others who are also working for change. In this sense, reflections on power, and reflections by change agents on how their work affects power relationships in all of its dimensions, is perhaps the first step in making more visible, power’s most hidden and invisible forms.