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



Countering the Backlash: Reclaiming Gender Justice

This project aims to create the knowledge needed and provide opportunities for women’s rights organisations and other gender justice defenders to counter the backlash and address the erosion of gender objectives within development.  

Recent work

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Working Paper

Rural Appraisal: Rapid, Relaxed and Participatory

The term Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) describes a growing family of approaches and methods to enable local people to share, enhance and analyse their knowledge of life and conditions, to plan and to act. PRA flows from and owes much to activist participatory research, agroecosystems,...

1 January 1992

Journal Article

The Revenge of the Poor: the Anti-Poll Tax Campaign in Britain


The last three years have witnessed the emergence of a most remarkable mass movement in the UK. In announcing to the House of Commons his intention to abandon the poll tax the Prime Minister, John Major, explicitly admitted that the primary reason for this stunning about-turn was the fact that...

1 January 1991


Rethinking Third World Politics

This book is a collection of papers by specialists in Third World politics. It proposes a number of new approaches to the study of Third World politics, which has fallen into disarray in recent times mainly as a result of the difficulties encountered by the two paradigms which have dominated...

1 January 1991


The Chinese State in the Era of Economic Reform: The Road to Crisis

This book seeks to reassess the impact of post-Mao market-oriented reforms on the Chinese state and its relations with society and the economy. It is a valuable source for those who wish to understand the complex, deep-rooted causes of the tragic events in Beijing in June 1989.

1 January 1991


The Expedient Utopian: Bandaranaike and Ceylon

This study of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the pivotal figure in the emergence of modern politics in Sri Lanka, makes a major contribution to an important yet neglected period in the country's political history. Bandaranaike is assessed as a member of that generation of Asian and African leaders who...

1 January 1989