Finding the Spaces for Change: A Power Analysis

  • John Gaventa
Volume 37 Number 6
Published: February 8, 2016
Around the world, new spaces and opportunities are emerging for citizen engagement in policy and governance processes. Yet opportunities for participation do not automatically translate into spaces for change. Much depends on the power dynamics that surround and infuse them, shaping who participates, where and with what result. Building on previous work based on the ‘three dimensions’ of power originally elaborated by Steven Lukes (1974), this article argues that these dimensions or forms of power must also be understood in relation to how spaces for engagement are created and the places (from local to global) in which they occur. Understanding each of these – the spaces, places and forms of power – as themselves interrelated dimensions, each of which has at least three components within them, these dimensions are visually and analytically linked together in a ‘power cube’. This framework, the article argues, can be used to assess the possibilities of transformative action in various settings.


  • Power
  • Participation
From Issue: Vol. 37 No. 6 (2006) | Exploring Power for Change