The Working Paper aims to contribute to a growing pool of experience of applying power analysis for improving social activism and organisational practice. Over the last decade, an increasing number of practitioners, researchers, NGOs, trusts and development agencies have introduced power frameworks and methods of power analysis into processes of context analysis, programme development and monitoring and evaluation. Power has been examined and addressed in relation to a vast range of development, human rights and social justice issues from women’s empowerment to economic justice and from local governance to HIV/AIDS. Power analysis processes have taken place from the UK to Colombia and from Indonesia to Sierra Leone with much innovation in methods and approaches for introducing ways of examining power with community members, grassroots leaders, NGO staff and donors.
This practice paper brings together in a single review documented experiences of applying power analysis for social change. The paper draws emerging lessons from this growing stream of practice by looking across the actors, organisations and methodologies involved in power analysis in a diverse range of contexts and issues. It reviews a significant number of case studies, reports and other documents with particular emphasis on the Powercube framework and related concepts, and provides reflections on the usefulness of these power frameworks and concepts in relation to four areas of application: 1) context analysis; 2) strategy and action; 3) monitoring and evaluation; and 4) facilitation and learning. It further aims to facilitate learning and sharing both between experienced practitioners and new-comers to power analysis and to this end, it provides an annotated list and table of all documents reviewed. Finally, the paper highlights some challenges lying ahead for power analysis and invites the reader to contest emerging lessons and embark on new explorations from which more nuanced and contextualised reflections will emerge.