Concepts and methods of ‘participation’ are used increasingly throughout the world in shaping policy and in delivering services. At the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) we are finding that these participatory approaches throw new light on the complex interactions within and between society and state institutions at local, national and global levels. Participatory approaches lead to questions about how different kinds of knowledge and values shape the rules of the game and policy choices. What are the societal and political processes through which power operates that inform whose voice is heard and whose is excluded? This then leads to asking what is power? Is it just about someone making other people act against their best interests? Or, is it also the glue that keeps society together? What are the connections between power and social change?
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