More ways of visualising power

At a workshop on power analysis hosted by IDS in June 2009, participants were invited to share images and ways of visualising power.  In addition to reflecting on drawings and cartoons which had been prepared, people sketched out alternatives to the  powercube. These included:

a tetrahedron  – or a triangular pyramid, in which each triangle represents one of the dimensions of the power cube, while the fourth side reflects the ‘expression of power’: ‘power over’, ‘power to’, ‘power within’ spectrum.  The advantage of this approach is that it can be used to illustrate the same the spaces, forms and levels dimensions, while also illustrating that the purposes for which power is used in each must also be considered  (thanks to workshop participant Charlotte Flower for suggesting this idea).

molecular structures changing over time


a sphere


desert rose






There may be a number of appropriate images to use, depending on the context, culture, learning styles of participants, etc.  One very effective approach, if time allows, is to presenting the dimensions of power – across levels, spaces and forms – and ask people themselves to diagram how they see the interrelationships, as you can see in the photos from the June workshop.


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