A New Model for Transforming Community
The Institute for Community Peace supports community action that results in structural change. We do this by focusing on the embedded factors that keep communities locked in paths that perpetuate disparities and impede access to opportunity.
Understanding Structures

Embedded within our social systems, structures are the principles that shape social practices.

Cultural schemas: Formal and informal rules, values, norms and representations that govern our social relations;
Modes of Power (Power relations): The way power is used to govern our relations and uphold cultural schemas
Resources: The tangible (i.e., financial and institutional) and intangible (knowledge, skills and abilities) assets of a community or society. Schemas and power relations determine how resources are distributed.


Structural forms only come into being when humans cause the simultaneous interaction of these principles. Once set, structures empower and/or constrain social action and are reproduced by that action. The longer a structure operates, the stronger and more resistant to change it becomes. As these principles are engaged in social action, they create and are in turn supported by:
Social Networks and Boundaries (civic affiliations, social and political groups) arise as a result of the social interactions that create a structure. Their purpose is to support the structure against contestation.

Changing Structures

ICP believes the most effective means for changing structures is through informed and sustained community engagement. Building community power to effect structural change requires collaborating with community to develop and implement comprehensive initiatives that make (at least) incremental steps in simultaneously shifting:

Cultural schema or community norms and values: reframing and/or supporting cultural representations and norms that foster the conduct of life in accordance with community desires.

Modes of power or power relations: supporting community to develop strategies that ensure that power structures are responsive to community need.

Resources: Ensuring that resources are distributed throughout the community in a way that responds to community need and ensures community health.

Social networks and boundaries: building intra- and inter-community networks and coalitions across race, ethnicity, class, etc., and coalitions to leverage broader changes.

Community access to a sense of agency: while all communities have agency, some have a more difficult time accessing and using it in ways that promote their aims. ICP works with community to create the conditions that lift access to their sense of agency.

Power Relations
Institute for Community Peace  •  410 4th Street, NE   •  Washington, DC 20002

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