Constructing a Power-Net

  • Objective: To gain a sense of which families/clans have been able to capture local government across time.
  • Materials/Preparation: Idea cards, markers, stones.
  • Key Informants: Key powerful stakeholders from or knowledgeable about the community.


Teams start by constructing a local timeline of local chairmen and council members.

The research team then explores the relationship between key powerful circles (families/kinship lines or parties) and their relations to other informal and formal elites (in terms of funding cronies, controlling access to certain institutions, or other means of supporting one another).

Building from the people identified from critical incident analysis, further discussions within the community and interviews with key powerful stakeholders, the research team also identifies formal and informal powerful actors within a community.

To construct a power map, the research team lists each formal and informal powerful actor (by name and village) on a card.

On their respective card, teams list:

  • Key resources owned and how they were accumulated (inheritance, business, land grabbing, etc),
  • Number of laborers / sharecroppers employed,
  • Party affiliation,
  • Committee membership and position (this may include mosque, madrassah, temple, schools, informal dispute arbitration, governance forums, etc), as well as relationships with other powerful actors within and beyond the locality (this can include kin, business, or friendship relations) and
  • Adversaries (e.g. political opponents, resource conflict, etc).

These cards are then divided by sphere of influence (i.e. administrative unit and beyond, ward level, and village level), and mapped to show how powerful actors relate to one another to gain a sense of the political culture of the locality, how state-funded entitlement and development schemes are implemented and to whom they are channeled, how access to and control over public resources (.e.g. forests and water bodies) is determined (patron-client and/or kin relations, and political affiliation), how dispute arbitration operates, and overall to ascertain how entrenched the positions of elites are.



  • B Bode (2007). Power Analysis in the Context of Rights-Based Programming. CARE Bangladesh.