Powercube: Understanding power for social change

First developed at IDS, the powercube has grown in popularity and use among the development organisations and NGOs with whom we work. The powercube – and its dimensions of power, spaces and levels – has also been used effectively in combination with other concepts, tools and methods for power analysis.

The resource website  brings together a number of resources for understanding power relations in efforts to bring about social change. This is collective effort, representing contributions from members at the Institute of Development Studies as well as a number of others from NGOs, donor agencies and community-based organisations across the world. Many of these contributors participated in a workshop at IDS on ‘Power analysis in practice’ in June 2009.

Much – but not all – of the website focuses on uses and applications of the powercube. The powercube is an innovative conceptual tool that can be used for understanding and analysing the way power works in processes of governance, in organizations, and in social relationships. It combines a multi-faceted approach to the various dimensions of power with a spatial mapping of the diverse spaces and levels in which these power relations are encountered. Use of the powercube can help those working to deepen participation and to shift power relations to identify appropriate strategies for particular contexts and moments. is a response to requests from many people for more practical and conceptual methods, materials and resources to help them think about and respond to power relations within their organisations and within wider social and political spaces and institutions. We hope that this resource, drawn from the input of dozens of people who are using the powercube as well as other approaches, will help to fill that need.

Key contacts

John Gaventa

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

Project details

start date
23 November 2006
end date
23 November 2012