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

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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Journal Article

Towards Democratic Governance


The articles in this IDS Bulletin critically examine the implementation of various policies and programmes fostered by the good government agenda.

3 May 1995

Working Paper

Poverty and Livelihoods: Whose Reality Counts?

Anti-poverty rhetoric is widespread, and some indicators of human well-being have improved. Current conditions are often appalling, trends in many places negative, and future prospects bad. In assessing conditions, professionals' realities are universal, reductionist, standardised and stable. ...

1 January 1995


Participatory Rural Appraisal: Abstracts of Sources: An Annotated Bibliography

This bibliography contains more than 800 annotated entries with keywords and suggested target audiences, as well as subject and author indexes. Subject areas covered include education and training, agriculture, participatory monitoring and evaluation, forestry, soil and water conservation,...

1 January 1995