Interrelational power dynamics are intimately connected to the success of any relationship and are especially critical in developing and sustaining mutually beneficial, reciprocally engaged partnerships. This work analyzes how elements of power impact the negotiation of engagement in community-university partnerships. Although this piece is a general theoretical account of power, it indicates very specific implications for community partners. A hypothetical example is used to contextualize distinct power challenges that confront community partners and faculty members during the engagement process. Specific attention is given to how organizational structure, the academic calendar, and the creation of knowledge influence produced understandings of differentials in power and differentials in need. The paper concludes with a discussion of three applied strategies that can be used to neutralize differentials in power and recognize differentials in need associated with the development of community-university partnerships. The theoretical language of differentials in power and differentials in need will arm practitioners with analytical tools to shape more meaningful partnerships.
Lorilee R. Sandmann
Brandon W. Kliewer
Thank you to the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES) for kindly allowing URBAN to share this resource. JCES is published twice a year at The University of Alabama. It is a peer-reviewed international research journal through which faculty, staff, students, and community partners disseminate scholarly works. JCES integrates teaching, research, and community engagement in all disciplines, addressing critical problems identified through a community-participatory process.