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Introduction Exploring Power for Change , IDS Bulletin 37-6

Author(s): Rosalind Eyben, Collette Harris and Jethro Pettit

Publication Date: 2006

This article, an introduction to an IDS Bulletin, begins by discussing how participatory concepts and approaches highlight and provide new insights into the complex interactions between stakeholders at local, national and global levels. These concepts and approaches lead to questions regarding the impact of knowledge extension on social rules and policies, often influencing power relationships among actors.

Referencing the guest articles from the complete bulletin, the stated aim of the article is to present some of the current work that the IDS engages in on the practice of power in development and the entry points for change. With that in mind, the article analyses the facets of the power concept:

  • Conceptualising Power
  • Experiencing and Reflecting on Power
  • Consenting to Power
  • Contesting Power
  • Expanding Power
  • Transforming Power

The article concludes by stating that the knowledge and understandings of power need to be expanded, so as to counteract the constraints of current theoretical and disciplinary distinctions of power. In particular, how power shapes citizens’ constructions of state institutions and the potential role of these institutions in harnessing public power as a counter balance to patriarchal and other forms of oppressive power within society, is of critical importance.