Power to the people? A study of power relations in community partiipation initiatives in Contemporary Ghana

Ditte Wegeberg

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This study places power at the centre of the analysis of processes of community participation. It takes its point of departure in the notion that community participation strategies tend to underplay both local inequalities and power relations within communities. I argue that understanding the dynamics of local power relations is decisive for enabling participatory efforts to achieve enhanced community participation in practise, and for averting the initiatives from reproducing uneven power relations instead of challenging them. Through a theoretical review of the concept community participation, the study reveals how this concept builds on a long range of silent assumptions, which tend to underestimate, simplify or disregard the influence of power. Against this background, and on the basis of empirical studies from two rural communities in Ghana, the thesis seeks to explore what actually happens when participatory strategies are implemented, aiming to provide in-depth knowledge to how community participation unfolds in the everyday context of local communities. Applying a theoretical perspective of power understood through the concepts of legitimacy and authority, it is studied how participatory spaces seen as ‘produced space’ is shaped by existing forms of organisation, relations of power, and perceptions of authority and legitimacy. As such, the study intends to shed light on, and exemplify how power relations can affect community participation as it becomes a terrain for negotiating, contesting and maintaining authority based on different strategies of legitimation and socially constructed perceptions of who is able to act and speak with authority.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato12 maj 2010


  • Participation
  • Chieftaincy
  • Ghana
  • Community
  • Power