Tag Archives: organizing power strategy

Visible, invisible and hidden power

I’m reading an interesting short essay by John Gaventa, in which he talks about three different forms of power: visible, invisible and hidden.

Visible power is the power that plays out in formal decisionmaking processes.  Social change activists participate in this through lobbying, advocacy, organizing, etc.

Hidden power is the power to set the agenda, include or exclude certain participants, etc.  This kind of power is often exercised behind closed doors.

Invisible power “involves the ways in which awareness of one’s rights and interests are hidden through the adoption of dominating ideologies, values and forms of behavior by relatively powerless groups themselves.”  In other words, invisible power is the creation of culture, beliefs and awareness.