Image of John Gaventa

John Gaventa

Research Fellow and Director, Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme

Professor John Gaventa is a political sociologist, educator and civil society practitioner with over 40 years of experience in research, teaching and organisational leadership in North and South.

Professor Gaventa is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Director of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme. He previously served as Director of Research at IDS (2015-2019), and as Director of the Coady International Institute and Vice President of International Development at StFX University in Canada (2011-2014). Prior to that, he was a Fellow in the Power, Participation and Social Change team at IDS, and Director of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability, based at IDS.

Linking research and practice, he has written and/ or edited a dozen books and over sixty articles, book chapters and research reports related to issues of citizenship and citizen engagement, power and participation, governance and accountability, inequality and social change in a number of countries around the world. His most recent books include Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy (co-editor with Alison Mathie), Globalizing Citizens (co-editor with Rajesh Tandon) and Citizen Action and National Policy Reform (co-editor with Rosemary McGee).

A former Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Prize Fellow, in 2011 he also received the Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize for his distinguished scholarship on civic learning, citizen participation and engaged research. In 2012, he was awarded an OBE for his service to Oxfam Great Britain, where he was chair from 2006 – 2011. He holds a DPhil degree from Oxford University.

Follow John on Twitter

John Gaventa is on Twitter @JohnGaventa

Google Scholar



Linking Participation and Economic Advancement

In this project, IDS will draw upon and expand its rich experience at the forefront of thinking about participation in development, and our emerging work at the intersection of participation and markets. We will co-create along with the Economic Advancement Program (EAP) at the Open Society...


The role of external actors (part of the A4EA programme)

Under the theme of "the role of external actors", this collection of projects from the A4EA programme is examining the best ways for external actors, particularly donors and NGOs, can support internally-led social and political actions that lead to greater empowerment and accountability, or to...



Can transparency make extractive industries more accountable?

Over the last two decades great strides have been made in terms of holding extractive industries accountable.  As demonstrated at the Global Assembly of Publish What You Pay (PWYP), which I attended recently in Dakar, Senegal, more information than ever about revenue flows to governments from...

8 February 2019


Journal Article

Power and Powerlessness in an Appalachian Valley – revisited

With the rise of Trump support in rural Appalachia – the coal mining, mountainous region in the heartland of the eastern United States – media and other commentators have rushed to explain this conservative politics in ‘exceptionalist’ terms, largely based on cultural stereotypes....

7 May 2019


Engaged Excellence in Development Studies

An important question for schools of Development Studies (DS) is how to undertake research that is both rigorous in its own right, and relevant and useful to those whose lives and futures are potentially affected by the new evidence, insights and concepts it generates. In other words, how do we...

Image of Katy Oswald
Katy Oswald & 2 others

8 January 2019

John Gaventa’s recent work


What have we learned from the powercube?

Over ten years ago John Gaventa and the Power, Participation and Social Change team at IDS, developed the power cube. We want to hear from people who have used the tool to understand what can we can learn from it.

18 December 2017