Perception of Concept and Practice of Social Power in Development Interventions in Malawi
AbstractThe study examined research participants’ perception of social power in intervention programmes in Malawi. Two districts and four villages with active participation in the intervention programmes were purposively selected. Focus group participants were purposively identified, while the snow balling procedure was employed to select key informants. A total of 375 participants consisting of 219 men and 156 women (to better explore the viewpoints of men from those of women) were drawn from the two study locations. Data were analysed by content analysis. The results showed that >98% of participants stated that power meant the ‘capacity of a social actor to influence decisions and secure compliance of other social actors. Less than 98% also perceived ‘power’ as the leadership ability of a social actor but few participants with high level of power shared this construct. Further analysis informed that power was perceived as the act of guiding fellow social actors to plan and implement activities serving common interest while another 50% of respondents perceived power as a mere potential ability to influence. Statistics however showed only 3.7% of relatively powerful social actors from agricultural extension workers and 1.3 % of sexual and reproductive health interventionists shared power as potential ability to influence way of thinking and doing. Therefore, stakeholders of development intervention should recognize experienced social actors and traditions as power indicators since these will enhance effective extension policy process aimed at development intervention among rural populace.
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