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Finding the spaces for change: A power analysis

Whether concerned with participation and inclusion, realising rights or changing policies, more and more development actors seeking change are also becoming aware of the need to engage with and understand this phenomenon called power. Yet simultaneously, the nature and expressions of power are also rapidly changing. The very spread and adoption by powerful actors of the language and discourse of participation and inclusion confuses boundaries of who has authority and who does not, who should be on the ‘inside’ and who is on the ‘outside’ of decision-making and policymaking arenas.

All of these changes point to the need for activists, researchers, policymakers and donors who are concerned about development and change to turn our attention to how to analyse and understand the changing configurations of power. If we want to change power relationships, e.g. to make them more inclusive, just or pro-poor, we must understand more about where and how to engage. This article shares one approach to power analysis; an approach which has come to be known as the ‘power cube’ and provides some reflections and examples of how this approach has been applied in differing contexts.