Power Analysis

The Video for Change approach supports positive social change. It is therefore important that you understand how power affects both the issues you are addressing and the people with whom you are working, as they will be affected by the change you seek.

Power determines who gets access to what resources, tools or information, when, where and how. It also confers the ability to decide who gets what, when, where and how.

Depending on the context in which you are working, you may confront an imbalance in power relations between actors, groups, communities, institutions and/or organisations that causes friction or conflict.

If this power imbalance is not properly analysed and considered, you may run the risk of generating more friction or even conflict. It is important for both participants and video-makers together to assess how power might be managed, harnessed or challenged.

There are various ways power can be expressed — and depending on the context, the influence of power can be either positive or negative.

Types of Power

Type of power
How is it manifested?
How can Video for Change address it?
Power to  the ability of an  individual or group to act Every individual has some power to change a given situation. Take active steps to listen to and include diverse voices. Support the meaningful participation of affected and/or knowledgable communities or groups.
Power with  the ability to act together Joining together with others, building shared understandings, planning and taking collective action. Build and strengthen alliances and relationships. Support movement building.
Power within the belief that an individual or group has the ability to act The sense of confidence, dignity and self-esteem that comes when we gain awareness of our situation and realise our capacity to analyse and change it. Support respectful and meaningful interactions with specific participants and communities.
Power over control over another’s access and actions The domination or control of one person, group or institution over another. Challenge unjust power structures and amplify marginalised and excluded voices and perspectives.

Consider all the different types of power at play as you watch the video below.

Power and Cultural Context

In order to catalyse shifts in democratic process, accountability, access to resources, inequality and forms of oppression, among other issues, it is important to understand the levels of marginalisation and exclusion that members of the affected community (or other stakeholders) face.

Consider the level of access that affected community members have to express their voice and influence policy, and the different levels of cultural, ethnic or socioeconomic diversity among them. Consider how marginalisation and exclusion arising from these factors hinder progress.

You may be a member of a marginalised community, and documenting and advocating on behalf of yourself or your community. Guidance on reducing powerlessness may not be applicable to you — or may be obvious to you.

We would nevertheless encourage you to consider whether your video-making and advocacy may create imbalances of power and access.

How to Analyse Power

Consider the following:

  • Who is directly and indirectly affected by the issue you are trying to address? (This can help you make decisions about who should be involved in your initiative.)
  • What are the applicable dimensions of power (personal, private or public)?
  • How may the dimensions of power be seen (visible, hidden or invisible)?
  • What is the nature of the power imbalance(s), if any?
  • What are the spaces where different power is enacted? (Identifying these places of power can provide opportunities for social change.)
  • Who are the people, organisations or institutions with the most power to change the situation?
  • Who are allies and partners with whom you might collaborate? (This may include people already working on the same or related issues, or people not yet engaged.)

Considering these points will enable you to develop a strategic theory of change for your Video for Change initiative.