Last week we looked into possible campaigning actions to solve the problem of excessive drinking and the negative impact on the NHS and individuals’ mortality, following some prominent headlines.
Doing a power analysis can be a useful tool to help focus action on what might be the source of this specific chosen problem, and can identify entry points for campaigners.
With problem drinking, what initially appears to be a single issue throws up ideas for numerous campaigns targeting different power-holders.
Gaventa’s power cube offers a framework for power analysis, with three interrelated categories of power:
Spaces: closed / invited / claimed or created
Levels: global / national / local
Forms: visible / hidden / invisible
Looking at these power types in context of the problem can inspire a whole host of potential action ideas. For example, from brainstorming problem drinking:
- Visible power of government in setting national laws might lead to a campaign on mandatory minimum pricing of alcohol. While the actual apparatus for decision making may be closed to the public, there might be invited spaces where campaigners are able to participate in consultations or influence the decision makers directly.
- Another idea here might focus on the visible power of the industry itself to manage their behaviour. Creating codes of conduct for staff, or policies that help reduce problem drinking such as free soft drinks or safe spaces, might be a good way for them to improve their image or achieve CSR objectives while contributing to the solution of this problem on a local level. In addition, they have a degree of invisible power in their perpetuation of the societal norm that drinking to excess is desirable, so looking at influencing the messages they put out could also be an entry point for campaigners.
- This leads well into the hidden power of the alcohol industry who may be lobbying decision makers against such a minimum pricing concept, but in a closed space. Perhaps claiming these spaces might be possible: demanding an invitation to key meetings or making such power dynamics visible via exposing private lobbying, or even buying shares in companies to become an invited shareholder with a degree of power could be possible ways into this problem.
- Invisible power is also an important consideration in this problem – the norms of society that problem drinking is ‘OK’ might need to be challenged. For example, targeting individuals on a local level, perhaps by service provision in support for addicts and those affected by addiction could be a space to focus campaigns on, or a place to gather stories and mobilise individuals. Alternatively, educating drinkers about the dangers of drinking, and making this less attractive to individuals both in the spaces they actually drink, via mass media such as TV ads, and online is an approach used by drinkaware, a UK charity which is largely funded by the alcohol industry, perhaps as part of their CSR committments:
Taking the problem we want to solve and taking it through this kind of power analysis seems to be a really good way of mapping out possibilities for campaigning.