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The Political Economy Framework


Just like the Ecological Model from the first week of this course, the Political Economy Framework is yet another theoretical model for explaining community change processes. It is somewhat similar to the Ecological Model in that it is comprised of (three) layers, starting with the individual person (the intrapersonal layer in the Ecological Model) and ending at the level of national and even international government (the policy layer in the Ecological Model). The Political Economy Framework is comprised of the following three layers:

(1) Individual layer: Individual people and families
(2) Organizational layer: Local and supralocal organizations
(3) Political economy layer: National and international policy level

The model recognizes that communities can be comprised of higher and lower classes with very different access to power and resources. Such classes can be defined, for instance, by gender, wealth, ethnicity, land ownership, religion, family heritage or occupation.

The model differentiates between three different types of power as well:

(1) Situational power: The ability of individual persons to make their own decisions (e.g. regarding healthcare) within the given framework of political power (individual layer).

(2) Organizational power: The ability of local and supralocal organizations to influence the existing power framework in order to achieve their goals (organizational layer).

(3) Systemic / structural power: People who are holding actual structural power are able to shape the political framework and thus define how “the game is played” (political layer).

These lecture notes were taken during 2012 installment of the MOOC “Community Change in Public Health” taught by Prof. Dr. William R. Brieger of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Prof. Brieger blogs under and can be found on twitter as @bbbrieger.

1 Comment

  1. […] the lectures of the third week were all about different power imbalances within the Political Economy Framework, the fourth week centers around the dynamics of community coalitions, that form out of the need to […]

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