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Power is the ability to influence actively the decisionmaking of an individual, a group or of the whole society and the way how relevant socio-political topics are discussed among citizens.

Empowerment is a process of gaining competencies for public social activity, cooperative self­organization and involvement in any public decision-making.

Power Spheres

Public Within a group of people, such as an urban space, an organization, an initiative or university

Private In a family or a group of friends

Intimate Inner power, self-consiousness as an agent of change

Gaining power

is a process of (self-)empowerment that motivates people to participate. Feeling empowered is therefore a crucial condition for active involvement of individuals. Empowerment is based on the understanding of power as something that can under specific conditions be shared without a loss to the person sharing it. Sharing power, enhancing each other’s capacities, and improving each other’s skills makes a community empowered.

Reflecting power

encourages people for democratic action but in the same way may prevent civil involvement, because talking openly about power seems to be a taboo for a lot of people. However, power is present in any social group. Reflecting power constellations and thinking about power as a (shared) source is a task for individuals, activist groups, and organizations in order to shape fair, democratic and participatory power relations and structures.

Legitimations of power

There are different sources and legitimations of power, such as force (violence), knowledge, expertise, charisma, resources (money, food, property), social class, authority (also delegated authority), persuasion, bureaucracy, religion, friendship.

Marta Anna Gawinek-Dagargulia

Marta Anna Gawinek-Dagargulia

Facilitator, coordinator of empowerment programs, author and program manager in the fields of cultural activism and civi education. Lives in Warsaw (Poland), head of SKORO association.