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

PhD Research Student

Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

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Becky Carter

Research Officer

Image of Brigitte Rohwerder
Brigitte Rohwerder

Research Officer

Image of Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson

Research Officer

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Danny Burns

Professorial Research Fellow

Programmes and centres



African Digital Rights Network

Many countries in Africa are experiencing a closing of civic space. This network brings together activists, analysts and researchers from seven African countries.


Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid-19

Navigating Civic Space examines changing civic space in Nigeria, Mozambique and Pakistan under the impact of COVID-19. How has the pandemic affected ongoing trends of changing civic space? How do civil society actors operate where space is narrowing further, and how do they make the most of...

Recent work

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Upcoming Event

State-citizen dynamics of trust through Covid-19

Governments globally have faced unprecedented challenges in responding to Covid-19. While they have managed to get some things right, delayed responses, insufficient test, track and trace programmes, contradictory messages, disinformation, and a sense of the economy being prioritised over public...

12 October 2020


Responding to Covid-19 – the social dynamics

The global pandemic Covid-19 is impacting the lives of people in many and varied ways.  Together with partners worldwide, IDS researchers are providing critical evidence and analysis that are shaping the spread of the virus and must inform immediate responses. We are collaborating across...

29 September 2020

Working Paper

What is Wrong with African Tax Administration?

ICTD Working Paper 111

National tax administrations in sub-Saharan Africa have undergone considerable reform in recent decades. In a number of respects, they are, on average, more reformed and more efficient than tax administrations in other low income regions of the world. They have responded effectively to a number...

24 September 2020


Timely, relevant and actionable sanitation programming essential for SDG 6

With just 10 years to achieve the 2030 target of safely managed sanitation for all, we need to learn rapidly to make real progress. Over the past few years, the Sanitation Learning Hub, in collaboration with, the Government of India, Praxis, WSSCC and WaterAid India, have been developing...

21 September 2020


Rapid Action Learning for Sanitation and Hygiene Programming

Frontiers of Sanitation: Innovations and Insights 15

This issue of Frontiers of Sanitation describes four Rapid Action Learning approaches that have been developed and tested in India by IDS and partners to support the Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin, and encourages others to use them, to innovate other approaches, and to share their...

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Jamie Myers & 2 others

21 September 2020


Young Africans need more and better jobs, not more training

When the world rebuilds after the Covid-19 crisis, Africa will have a unique challenge to face: bringing its overwhelmingly young workforce into decent, productive, and secure jobs. Africa has the world’s youngest population, a fact that some hope will mean fewer deaths and serious cases,...

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Philip Mader & 4 others

10 September 2020


Protecting cultural heritage: The Shan of Myanmar

Researching the history and culture of the Shan, the largest ethnic minority group in Myanmar, is possible in UK and US libraries where small well conserved, and cataloged Shan manuscripts are available. Researching in Shan State in Myanmar is more complicated. One can only travel in “safe...

9 September 2020


Hazara Women: The Lynching That We Didn’t Do

A month after a Pashtun Sunni teen was lynched by a mob in Hazara Town, Shia Hazara women express their fears from outside the community and within. On 29 May 2020, Bilal Noorzai, a Pashtun teenager, was brutally lynched by a Hazara mob in Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan. Two of his friends and...

Raheela Habib & 2 others

9 September 2020


Secular-religious dynamics in Covid-19 response

From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have heard about the effects of Covid-19 or associated restrictions on religious communities. Purim was one of the earliest events disrupted for many congregations this year. It soon became clear, from Shincheonji Church in Korea through to Tablighi...

Olivia Wilkinson

9 September 2020