Power provides the ability to influence people and make decisions that impact others.
Privilege refers to unearned access to resources (e.g., power) that individuals receive because of social groups they are perceived to be a part of.
In our social world, the personal and social identities we hold create dynamics when we engage with others. Within each social identity category, some people have greater access to power and privilege based on membership in their social group. In our community engagement experiences, we might engage with people who are similar and different from us in various ways.
The community with which you will be working has a set of power structures, and it is vital that you understand how your presence impacts that power structure.
Understanding the dynamics of power that we operate in can help us to work better with others to meet the goals of our projects or interactions.
Read through this case study by Williams and Nunn (2016) on the dilemmas of power and privilege in community engagement work.