Interaction of forms, spaces and levels

click on the powercube As we explored in what is the powercube, each dimension of power – form, space and level – interacts with the other. This poses significant challenges for strategies which are seeking to analyse power and change power relations. Transformative, fundamental change happens, we suggest, in those rare moments when social movements or social actors are able to work effectively across each of the dimensions simultaneously, i.e. when they are able to link the demands for opening previously closed spaces with people’s action in their own spaces; to span across local and global action, and to challenge visible, hidden and invisible power simultaneously.

Linking strategies for change across the three dimensions of the powercube is a huge challenge, both within each of the dimensions, but also made more difficult by their interaction.  For any given issue or action, there is no single strategy or entry point. Much depends on navigating the intersection of the relationships, which in turn can either contribute to new misalignments and distortions of power, or simultaneously creates new boundaries of possibility for strategic action.  For instance, linking local-national-global campaigns to open up previously closed spaces may be important, but in so doing, they may re-enforce forms of hidden and invisible power, if they simultaneously exclude certain potential actors or forms of knowledge. On the other hand, the opening of previously closed local spaces can contribute to new mobilizations, which may have the potential to open other spaces more widely, and to create momentum for change at national or global levels.  The process of change is constantly dynamic – requiring strategies which allow constant reflection on how power relations are changing and the agility to move across shifting spaces, levels and forms of power.

This does suggest that those seeking to challenge power in all of its spaces, levels and forms need to search not for one solution, but to build multiple, linked strategies and in different sequences, depending on the starting point in any given context. The challenge is to understand what these strategies might be, and how they can be linked, to address all of the dimensions of power. That’s when transformative change might really occur.

For one example of an attempt to work across multiple dimensions of power simultaneously, see the case of Jubilee Debt Campaign.

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