Politics and Power

While the concern for good governance has become widely accepted as a critical condition for advancing development agendas, the question of why democratic politics have not delivered better outcomes for the poor in developing countries remains elusive.

Recent trends challenge the conventional wisdom that democratic institutions are structures of voluntary cooperation, that solve redistributive conflicts and benefit all. A critical approach to the dynamics of power and the interactions between influential stakeholders (business groups, political elites, the military, the media, and international aid system) is necessary to understand why policy decisions may advance the interests of a privileged few at the expense of the less organised or poorly endowed. Often, alternative power dynamics take place outside legal structures through informal institutions or networks, which may contradict, complement or enhance the workings of formal institutions.

Relevant areas of work to understand the multiple dimensions of power include the new roles of private sector investment in providing development opportunities for the poor, the underlying factors facilitating collective action for service delivery, participatory approaches to empower minorities and excluded groups in the policy-making process, the incentives to improve responsiveness and accountability of elected officials, the politics of budget governance, and the politics of international aid among others.

Through our work we aim to inform scholarly debates, as well as influence domestic policymakers, international donors and most importantly the citizens of developing countries on alternative ways to secure greater social justice and equity.

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Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher More details

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IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of David Leonard More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Dolf te Lintelo More details

Photo of Erika Lopez-Franco, IDS Participation team Research Officer More details

Photo of Fiona Wilson More details

Gauthier Marchais, Research Fellow in the Conflict and Violence research cluster at IDS More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Hani Morsi More details

Photo of Ian Scoones, Research Fellow More details

Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow More details

Photo of Jo Howard, Research Fellow in the IDS Participation cluster More details

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This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin 475, 'Power, Poverty and Inequality'.

Power, Poverty and Inequality

IDS Bulletin 47.5 (2016)

Ten years on from the landmark 2006 edition of the IDS Bulletin that brought us the ‘powercube’ – a practical approach to power analysis that offered a way of confronting its complexity – we return to the question of how to analyse and act on power in development. More details

ER211_FrontCover

Multi-level Advocacy for Nutrition

IDS Evidence Report 211 (2016)

Over the past decade, nutrition has received strong global attention as a development problem. Concerted efforts by international donors, philanthropical foundations, national and international non-government organisations and civil society have pushed nutrition further up global and national policy agendas. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Intersectionality: A Key for Men to Break Out of the Patriarchal Prison?

Reflecting on male gender activists’ lessons from India, this article explores how intersectionality can help men (and women) better understand the structure of patriarchy, by connecting it to other forms of oppression, based on class, caste and age. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Practice Paper Lessons from Yowzit’s practitioner research and learning process

Lessons from Yowzit’s Practitioner Research and Learning Process

Making All Voices Count’s Research, Evidence and Learning component provides grants and mentoring support for real-time research, applied by tech for transparency and accountability practitioners, for project learning and improved practice. Practice papers document these grantees’ learning processes. More details

ER206_FrontCover

Gender, Sexuality and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Meta-Analysis of Mechanisms of Exclusion and Avenues for Inclusive Development

IDS Evidence Report 206 (2016)

Through its work, the Institute of Development Studies Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme provides new evidence-based knowledge and policy options support efforts to strengthen the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. More details

ER198_FrontCover

The Violent Politics of Informal Work, and How Young People Navigate Them: A Conceptual Framework

IDS Evidence Report 198 (2016)

This report explores the linkages between young people’s economic engagement and their social and political engagement in contexts of violence in Africa. More details

PB122_FrontCover

Reducing Violence in a Time of Global Uncertainty

IDS Policy Briefing 122 (2016)

The new Sustainable Development Goal to reduce armed violence is a welcome commitment but the prescriptive nature of its approach is problematic – there is ‘no one size fits all’. Rather, focus needs to be on how violence operates in particular settings. More details

image for non-ids publications

Internal Displacement, the Camp and the Construction of Citizenship: Perspectives from Northern Uganda

Journal of Refugee Studies 2016 (2016)

Having no opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement further erodes a sense of citizenship. More details

This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 47.3, 'Ruptures and Ripple Effects in the
Middle East and Beyond'.

Ruptures and Ripple Effects in the Middle East and Beyond

IDS Bulletin 47.3 (2016)

Perhaps more than any other region or any other period of post-Cold War history, the Middle East since the Arab Spring constitutes a significant challenge to established ideas about development and its relationship with conflict. More details

ER189_FrontCover

The BRICS in International Development: The New Landscape

IDS Evidence Report 189 (2016)

This Evidence Report provides a summary account of the role of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in shaping the current global development landscape. More details

ER185_FrontCover

Assessing the Policy Impact of ‘Indicators’: A Process-Tracing Study of the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI)

IDS Evidence Report 185 (2016)

In recent years, the global literature on reducing hunger and malnutrition has come to view progress as much an outcome of a political process as of (nutrition) technical interventions. Political commitment is now seen as an essential ingredient for bringing food and nutrition security higher up on public policy agendas. More details

ER180_FrontCover

Who Drives Climate-relevant Policies in the Rising Powers?

IDS Evidence Report 180 (2016)

The future of human life on our planet is influenced increasingly by what goes on in the rising powers. This report presents a political economy analysis of their policies, comparing China, India, Brazil and South Africa. More details

Non-IDS publication

The Effects of Protracted Conflict and Displacement on Citizen Engagement in Northern Uganda

Conflict, Security and Development 16.1 (2016)

This demonstrates the need for a clear understanding of the continued fragility of citizenship after violent conflict More details

PB112_FrontCover

Rethinking Approaches to Peace-Building and Political Settlements in an Increasingly Urbanised World

IDS Policy Briefing 112 (2016)

Violence in cities significantly compromises development and can have detrimental consequences for peace-building and political settlements in both conflict and non-conflict settings. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 464, 'Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency: A Review of the Literature'.

Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency: A Review of the Literature

IDS Working Paper 464 (2016)

This Working Paper comprises a literature review that was carried out to inform the formulation of a research project on power, violence, citizenship and agency, which addresses how social actors react to complex, violence-prone contexts. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Understanding Politically Motivated Sexual Assault in Protest Spaces

Social & Legal Studies 25.1 (2016)

The article argues that a number of factors if analysed individually suggest there is no difference in the dynamics of sexual violence in protest and non-protest spaces, however suggest a pattern that is politically driven. More details

ER166_FrontCover

The Role of Business in Driving and Shaping Renewable Energy Policies in China

IDS Evidence Report 166 (2016)

This report investigates the role of business actors in shaping China’s renewable energy policy process and governance. It finds that with the tremendous growth of renewable industry over the past two decades, a new government–business coalition is taking shape in China. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Water resources and climate change

The state of water resources is one of constant change. Rising temperatures are reducing the reliability and quality of water supplies. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Ethiopia: Year 3 Findings from the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility Study

With regards to processed foods and food perceived to be unsafe, we found that fast food consumption has significantly increased in the last few years. It is supplied at low prices and many find it affordable, easily accessible and some consider it to be nutritious. However, some have expressed their concern over hygiene while others fear that it would expose many families to economic problem because husbands and children are progressively eating outside and do not bring money home. More details

Non-IDS publication

Resistance, Revolt, and Gender Justice in Egypt

Unlike past and future uprising's during this protest, it was the women who shouted the slogans and the men who tagged along. More details