Power is an integral part of our work as organizers and activists—it is something we deal with all the time. And yet it is a difficult concept to describe and to integrate into a strategy for social change. Power has multiple sources and is exercised in many ways. It plays a role in shaping patterns of social relationships and human interactions in almost every sphere of our lives. Sometimes we can see power at work in very direct and obvious ways—landlords and bosses have power that we know too well. Sometimes power operates in less obvious and even hidden ways, through cultural norms, ideas and practices that perpetuate existing power relations and that discourage questions about, or challenges to, those power relations.
Our goal in this paper is to provide tools and analyses that can help organizations take what they already know about power, through their own experiences, and use that knowledge in new ways to further their strategies and long-term goals.