The Difference That Power Makes: Intersectionality and Participatory Democracy

  • Patricia Hill CollinsEmail author
Part of the The Politics of Intersectionality book series (POLI)


This essay explores how developing more complex analyses of power and politics sheds light on important themes for both intersectionality and participatory democracy. Drawn from intersectional inquiry, Part I, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Hypervisible Power and Invisible Politics,” outlines three focal points of a provisional power analytic: (1) how analyses of intersecting, structural oppressions underpin systems of domination; (2) how a domains-of-power framework provides a set of conceptual tools for analyzing and responding to intersecting power relations; and (3) how a more robust analysis of the collective illuminates the political action of subordinated groups. Part II, “Black Feminism, Flexible Solidarity and Intersectionality,” builds on this power analytic by examining power and politics from the standpoint of the resistance traditions of historically subordinated groups. By no means the only or universal case, African American women’s political action provides an alternative analysis of power and politics. Black feminism conceptualizes intersectionality and politics in flexible, pragmatic terms with an eye toward an overarching vision rather than in the static, ideological terms of political theory. It thus constitutes an important site for seeing the deepening commitment to participatory democracy as an alternative to technical agendas of the state. Part III, “The Difference That Power Makes: Implications for Intersectionality and Participatory Democracy,” discusses implications of intersectionality’s power analytic for projects for intersectionality and participatory democracy.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under licence to Spring Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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