Governance, Power and Participation

Our research on governance, power relations, participation and citizen engagement, informs change processes in pursuit of social justice and social change. With power and politics central to our analysis, we support the generation of new evidence that contributes to improved processes for good governance, citizen engagement, empowerment and accountability.

We pioneer new ways of working with governments, communities, activists and academics, to understand the complex relationships and processes that exist across states, markets, and citizens, and between formal and informal institutions, to tackle issues such as digital inequalities, women’s participation and empowerment, decentralisation and local governance, rapid urbanisation, migration, taxation and domestic resource mobilisation, food security and hunger and nutrition. These draw on our extensive expertise in complex approaches to how change happens.  Through our research and policy partnerships we are also bringing new insights on the role that rising powers and emerging economies such as China and Brazil have in relation to global governance and tackling development challenges such as sustainability and poverty.  Our world-renown participatory research has a particular emphasis on systematic social exclusion facing women, people living in extreme poverty, people with disabilities, slaves bonded labourers, indigenous peoples and others. We advance cutting edge methodological development in action research, participatory visual methods, participatory mapping, participatory statistics, participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) amongst others.


Image of Alex Shankland
Alex Shankland

Research Fellow

Image of Aly Khalil
Aly Khalil

Postgraduate Researcher

Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Image of Becky Carter
Becky Carter

Research Officer

Image of Brigitte Rohwerder
Brigitte Rohwerder

Research Officer

Image of Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson

Research Officer

Image of Danny Burns
Danny Burns

Professorial Research Fellow

Programmes and centres

Recent work

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Upcoming Event

IDS Annual Lecture

IDS Annual Lecture with Samson Kambalu

Malawian born artist Samson Kambalu will deliver this year’s IDS Annual Lecture. Samson is a globally renowned artist and intellectual whose Antelope sculpture will feature on London Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in 2022. Credit: Antelope Press The Antelope and the Problematic of...

25 November 2021

Upcoming Event

In conversation with the President of the Republic of Costa Rica

Join us for this very special event as we welcome our former student, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada back to IDS. Speaking with us just days after addressing fellow world leaders at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, this will be an opportunity to hear first-hand his aspirations for the crucial...

4 November 2021


Just food transitions from the bottom up in Brazil and the UK

Similar challenges and common values unite the diversified efforts of advocacy organisations for food justice in different parts of the globe. Besides scope for mutual learning between these organisations, bringing their experiences together creates opportunities for amplifying localised stories...

22 October 2021


State surveillance of citizens going unchecked across Africa

A new report warns existing laws are failing to protect privacy rights, with governments in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan overreaching surveillance powers to monitor citizens. With mass surveillance in direct violation of citizen’s constitutional rights and...

21 October 2021