Power in Practice: Bringing Understandings and Analysis of Power into Development Action in Oxfam

Jo Rowlands
Volume 47 Issue 5
Published: 25 November 2016
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19088/1968-2016.171
Abstract: Theorising about power has developed over the past decade in ways that support significantly more nuanced understanding and analysis; the implications of this for development practice are becoming better understood, but have yet to be systematically integrated in programme design and implementation. This article explores the process of strengthening and developing power analysis in the international non‑governmental organisation (NGO), Oxfam. Some of the language is shifting, and power analysis has become a prerequisite for planning processes and is seen as a foundational skill. More programmes work intentionally with informal as well as formal power, and there is more willingness to engage with complexity. In practice, there is a hybrid approach to power analysis with multiple approaches in play. It is not easy to maintain and develop understandings in the face of constant changes, and the article explores some of the obstacles and issues that need further attention for theory to reach practice.


From Issue: Vol 47, No 5 (2016) | Power, Poverty and Inequality