Keren Winterford A positive notion of power

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  • 1. A positive notion of power for citizen voice and state accountability Dr Keren Winterford Fourth ACFID University Network Conference Development Futures: Alternative Pathways to end Poverty 21 November 2013
  • 2. Key messages from this presentation Power is central to development discourse and practice Need to question dominant notions of power + Power Positive notion of power offers opportunity for expanding power and synergistic change Prioritise future view of power… relational dialogue and joint citizenstate action
  • 3. Why does the notion of power matter to development? Understandings of poverty and development have been evolving Experiences Causes of of poverty poverty Economic and technical Lack of Participation People’s experience of poverty is one of powerlessness Poor governance and lack of state accountability Lack of citizen engagement to influence state accountability Dimensions include lack of information, lack of voice and unaccountable governments
  • 4. Why does the notion of power matter to development? In line with thinking about Causes of poverty Experiences of poverty …increased citizen participation with government increases state accountability and in turn improves delivery of basic services for poverty reduction Dominant understandings of power
  • 5. What are dominant understandings of power in citizen-state relations? ‘Changing the balance of power’ ‘Power is negative…power is bad’ ‘Empowering citizens as a means of addressing state power and resulting poor state accountability’
  • 6. Dominant understandings of power in citizen-state relations Power over Power to Power with Power within (VenKlasen & Miller 2002) “Accepting and embracing conflict, the model and mindset are framed into a game which is predominantly zero-sum. Practical and realistic while this often is, it sees the things one way round. The question is whether, it tends to obscure and undervalue opportunities which start with the realities and contexts of the powerful “(Chambers 2006, p.103)
  • 7. Stories from the field of citizen-state relations Opportunities for transforming power from zero-sum to win-win
  • 8. A positive notion of power Power = inherent strengths of each individual latent strengths are potential power to act State Power = vested by citizens power “it is the people’s support that lends power to the institutions of a country” (Arendt 1972) Power = opportunity for mutual gain and win-win outcomes through the interaction of citizen power with state power Synergistic Power = power is “boundless” and the “interplay of powers with their checks and balances is even liable to generate more power “(Arendt 1958) Power = relational “requires both a loving drive to unit and a powerful drive to realise this unity” (Kahane 2010)
  • 9. Implications of a positive notion of power to our development futures Value inherent strengths Complementary framing of citizen and state power state is made up of multiple parts at multiple levels which offers opportunity for citizens to engage and build synergistic power
  • 10. Implications of a positive notion of power to our development futures  to emphasize revealing and amplifying strengths  to facilitate relational dialogue  to encourage an iterative process  to repair and rebuild relationships  to create opportunities for citizenstate joint action and quick wins In terms of citizen-state relations this is about enabling generative change outcomes - (1) Culture of dialogue (2) Improved relations (3) Cultures of accountability (4) Transformed relations