AoA - Power analysis

Power analysis involves exploring different forms of power (visible, hidden and invisible; public, private and intimate) men and women have and how these are manifested.

Participatory tools for power analysis

  • Chapatti diagramOne of the simplest ways of visualising power is through a Venn or chapatti diagram. This is a series of circles of different sizes, sometimes interconnecting and sometimes separate. The size of each circle represents the amount of power that a person or institution is seen to have. 
  • Forcefield analysisForcefield analysis can be used to map the different forces that may help or hinder your work in relation to a particular issue.
  • Gatekeeper toolA Gatekeeper tool can be used to identify potential connections with the individuals who hold power in relation to a particular issue.

Some key questions for power analysis

  • What level of control (ability to access or make decisions) do people living in poverty have over:
    • economic resources (for example, land, finance, forests and machinery)?
    • social resources (for example, information, groups or networks, religious or cultural institutions)?
    • political resources (for example, ability to vote and participate in decision-making)?
  • Who has most power over these resources formally and informally (or visibly/invisibly)?How are local power dynamics in respect of these resources connected to district level / national / international power dynamics?
  • What are the power dynamics that affect decision making within households (between men / women / older generation / children etc.)
  • What examples are there of people living in poverty gaining power, for example through organisation and mobilisation?
  • What examples of positive/transformative use of power are there?



Here you can download some useful resources.

Tools in this toolbox

3Ps power circles

To deepen analysis about how power relationships work at 3 different levels related to how we interact with the world: :personal …

Access and control matrix

To analyse who has the power to access and control different resources and who is denied this.The Access and Control Matrix encou…

Agricultural map

To show the different crops grown and / or livestock kept in a community.Steps in the processThe group may wish to begin the exer…

Body map

To explore issues around health and sexuality, women’s rights and violence against women.Steps in the processDraw the outline of …

Chapatti diagram

To explore relationships between things – particularly the relative importance, influence or power of people, organisations or gr…

Cobweb for rights analysis

To help understand the rights situation and of different groups in a community.In the example below the focus is on women's right…

Community power map

To map spaces of power in a clear, visual way and presenting local information, problems and opportunities. A community map can b…

Gatekeeper tool

To identify people who can help you access duty bearers relevant to your advocacy or campaigning work.The processDraw up a table …

Peeling the onion

To uncover and facilitate a process of deeper analysis about different forms of power related to specific issue.Visible power: ob…

Pillars of power

Use pillars of power analysis tool to identify the institutions without whose support your target would collapse. It helps you st…

Power flower

To look at shifts in different forms of power. The power flower tool provides a critical lens and a simple way to gather, consoli…

Power line

To help participants explore the unequal distribution of power amongst people.  It can evoke many negative emotions among partici…

Role play

To analyse issues and to rehearse speaking up in new situations or on different topics. Everyone has different roles in different…

Spectrum of allies

Movements seldom win by overpowering the opposition; they win by shifting support out from under it. Use a spectrum-of-allies ana…