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The Power Manual (PDF)
How to Master Complex Power Dynamics
All social relations are laden with power. Getting out from under dominant power relations and mastering power dynamics is perhaps the most essential skill for change agents across all sectors seeking to ignite positive change in the world.
This concise action manual explores major concepts of power, with a focus on the dynamics of domination and liberation, and presents methods for shifting power relations and enacting freedom. The Power Manual:
- Clearly distills the major theories of power from post-modern and feminist theory to business management and developmental psychology, and beyond
- Examines key ways that power is deployed and transformed in society
- Presents a new theory of power based on enactment—the bringing of something to life through one's actions
- Explains how to refuse powerless identities and enact powerful ones
- Helps readers choose egalitarian interactions over domination
- Demonstrates mastering the process of power expansion
- Features workshop games and group activities for identifying and shifting power relations.
This accessible action manual is ideal for change agents, leaders, and activists across all nonprofit and business sectors aiming to understand, master, and shift power relations.
Cyndi Suarez works with leaders in nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and social movements, including most recently the Movement for Black Lives. She helps social change leaders move from struggle to flow by helping them build elegant ideas and structures. She has a MS in Nonprofit Management from Southern New Hampshire University, and studied Feminist Theory at the New School for Social Research. Suarez is Senior Editor at Nonprofit Quarterly, the leading nonprofit journal. She lives in Boston, MA.
"This book is masterful. In The Power Manual, Cyndi Suarez refuses to accept the silos by which we organize our thinking and fields of knowledge. The result is an examination of power that honors the fullness of who we are as individual human beings and as social creatures. Moving across the political, spiritual, psychological, and gender self, she helps us understand power across our lived experience. The Power Manual is the handbook every person who considers themselves working to bring about a more just and compassionate world should read and carry with them throughout their journey."
Ceasar McDowell, Professor of the Practice of Civic Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
"We need to get comfortable talking about and wielding power. In this book, Cyndi Suarez does a great job of sharing theories about power -- academic, literary, and spiritual. There are also several unique practical games to build people's capacity to understand and leverage power, which I'm looking forward to trying out."
Susan Misra, Co-Director, Management Assistance Group
"Think you know all about power? Think again! Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, Suarez gives practical guidance for cultivating individual consciousness and building social power. She reminds us that “the state of being of the social change agent is the most powerful force for change. We can fight for freedom, or we can enact freedom.”
Cynthia Silva Parker, Senior Associate, Interaction Institute for Social Change
"Cyndi Suarez has written a book for our time. The social movements of our day have a conflicted relationship with power, endlessly deconstructing its evils while actively yearning for it. We forget that in any conflict the tendency is to become the mirror image of your opponent. There is great confusion between the struggle for power and the quest of liberation. Cyndi has written a comprehensive operations manual for living into the tension of these distinctions and quite literally enacting our way to freedom."
Gibran Rivera, Master Facilitator
"Most discussions of power explore the intellectual, political and economic dynamics that generate imbalances in our society. Perhaps that’s why power can seem so immutable: Our efforts to think or transact our way into a social reordering seem to result in little more than incremental change. In her book, The Power Manual, Cyndi Suarez brilliantly illuminates what’s missing. To exercise and understand power is an embodied, creative, spiritual and at times even playful act".
Deborah Frieze, author, Walk Out Walk On and Founding President, Boston Impact Initiative
"Cyndi Suarez draws insights from a diverse array of intellectual and spiritual traditions and her own experience as a social change practitioner to show that the power for social change is already within us. But we must exercise it in a way that shifts from a dominating power over to a liberating power with. The Power Manual is an accessible yet deep exploration into the complexity of power, as well as guide to group exercises for unleashing our collective power."
Penn Loh, Senior Lecturer and Director of Community Practice, Tufts Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Practice