Power and social transformation: understanding power from below

Hugo Gorringe, Irene Rafanell

Research output: Other contribution


The 2011 uprisings came as a surprise to most observers and toppled seemingly impregnable regimes. As the heady optimism of the revolutions has waned, however, it seems like normal politics has resumed. What this neglects is how the protest movements of 2011 – and social movements more generally – are able to exercise power in multiple ways that extend beyond the state.
Our central contention is that we are blind to the transformations that protest effects, because we are wedded to theories of power that are ill- equipped to explain processes of social change. Conventional analyses of power present individuals as internalizing social structures in ways that govern their actions, and negate their agency and resistance. We, therefore, critique leading theorists of power and highlight their inability to explain social upheavals. We then draw on more recent understandings of power that better explain and, thus, enable, social change.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTransnational Institute
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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