Sub-theme 11. Advances in Frameworks and Theory
Making Power Explicit in the IAD Framework
Facilitator: Jessica Steinberg8
A long-standing critique of the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IADF) and its derivatives (SES, NAS, CIS) is that they fall short of making different forms of power explicit. While power is understood to be present in the attributes of the community, rules-in-use, interactions, and outcomes, it is not specified within the framework. Underlying dynamics of power are present throughout social-ecological systems and take many forms, making it challenging for researchers interested in using the framework to understand how power shapes and is shaped by institutions.
The purpose of a framework is to make clear the important variables and dynamics of a unit of study. By this logic, excluding power from its named components suggests that it is not central to the study of institutions. While acknowledging previous scholarship, we (an ECN working group) see value in better explicating the multifaceted entanglements of institutions and power dynamics throughout the IADF.
In times of rapid change across scales and systems, the questions that institutional scholars are asking themselves are shifting from “what makes long-enduring institutions?” to “how do we transition to institutions with more equitable and truly sustainable outcomes?”
Such transitions seem to face persistent resistance. Hence, today more than ever we are asking, how do power dynamics operate within institutions, and vice versa?
Realizing the urgent need to build bridges across disciplines and schools of thought, we welcome fellow scholars to discuss which conceptualizations of power are most useful in the various elements of the IAD framework, which perspectives have so far been neglected, and how may we bring them together?