Full paper track 1: POWER

Full paper track 2: COMMONING

Full paper track 3: LEARNING & EDUCATION

Full paper track 4: COMPLICATED THINGS


Full Papers

Full papers report on substantial and original, unpublished research that advances Participatory Design (PD). As a single-track conference and the only research conference exclusively dedicated to PD, PDC full research papers have a broad impact on the development of PD theory, approaches and practices.

Chairs:  Julia Garde and John Vines, fullpapers@pdc2018.org

Full paper track 1: POWER

Wednesday 22nd of August
10:30 – 12:00
Hasselt University, in the Old Prison

Liesbeth Huybrechts, Virginia Tassinari, Barbara Roosen, Teodora Constantinescu
Work, Labour and Action. The role of participatory design in (re)activating the political dimension of work

This article discusses the difficult task of Participatory Design (PD) to design for/with the political dimension of work, such as the work environments’ care for inclusion of different groups. It first describes PD’s role through time in giving form to this political dimension after the crisis of Fordism and detects some challenges PD is confronted with in addressing this task today. It then explores how Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the political dimension of work can contribute to addressing these challenges, researching how her definitions of ‘work’, ‘labour’, ‘action’, ‘agorà’, ‘heroes’ and ‘interests’ can be used as steering concepts that support the (re)activation of this political dimension. We describe how we used Arendt’s concepts to steer a PD case in urban design with a group of architects, companies and citizens on how to reintegrate work into the city space of Antwerp. This paper ends with a discussion on the implications of using Arendt’s concepts in PD for work.

Mamello Thinyane, Karthik Bhat, Lauri Goldkind, Vikram Kamath Cannanure
Critical Participatory Design: Reflections on Engagement and Empowerment in a case of a Community Based Organization

Participatory Design (PD) methods serve a dual purpose of facilitating the achievement of superior design artifacts by connecting the designers and developers with their end-users, as well as catalyzing democratic engagement and empowerment of the end-users. These complementary goals of engaging and empowering individuals, who not only use the designed products but are also affected by these artifacts, have proven elusive to achieve in most cases. In this paper, we discuss a PD engagement with the staff of a community-based organization (CBO) towards developing a technology tool supporting their homeless outreach services. We undertake a critical qualitative inquiry, using a Situational Analysis analytic strategy to analyze the data reflecting on the complex dynamics of democratic engagement and participation, as well as empowerment in PD. The paper further unpacks the varied dependencies and relations between the elements and the discursive constructions prevalent in the situation of a PD session. It also presents a mapping of the various PD activities against levels of critical reflection.

Linus Kendall, Andy Dearden
Disentangling participatory ICT design in socioeconomic development

Participatory design in socioeconomic development is an invariably political activity fraught with both political as well as ethical entanglements. ICT for development (ICTD) – often involved in contexts of great inequality and heterogeneity – places these in especially sharp relief. This paper draws attention to these entanglements as well as what they mean for the role and practice of designer-researchers practicing PD. We then draw upon our experiences in an active PD project to highlight approaches that serve as a partial response to these entanglements. These presents both limitations as well as orientations for our role as designer-researchers in engaging with and organising PD work in ICTD – providing a starting point for answering the question “who participates with whom in what and why?”

Full paper track 2: COMMONING

Wednesday 22nd of August
14:45 – 16:15
Hasselt University, in the Old Prison

Anna Seravalli
Infrastructuring Urban Commons over Time: Learnings from Two Cases

This paper contributes to the understanding of urban commons and how they might be (co)-designed. Insights from two cases are used to articulate how urban commons develop over time and to discuss how the approach of infrastructuring can enable urban commoning on a long-term basis. First, an overview of commons and urban commons is provided with a special focus on commoning, as in, the understanding of commons as an ongoing process rather than a stable arrangement. Thereafter, the paper gives an overview of the participatory design community’s findings about co-designing commons, with infrastructuring proposed as a possible approach. By looking at the development of two urban commons overtime, the paper tentatively presents an understanding of urban commoning. This emerges as a process that entails the exploration, reification, and reworking of collaborative arrangements over time. It is a process that requires transparency and accountability, and its transformative potential in relation to urban governance should be carefully considered. From these findings, the paper suggests that prolonged infrastructuring efforts for urban commons need to: (1) foster the understanding of the temporal and fallible nature of arrangements; (2) support accountability and transparency over time; (3) recognize and address the installed base; and (4) articulate democratic and governance aspects in commoning.

Thomas James Lodato, Carl DiSalvo
Institutional Constraints: The Forms and Limits of Participatory Design in the Public Realm

In recent years, participatory design (PD) has increasingly occurred in the context of various public, private, governmental, and non-governmental institutions operating in the public realm. This context has led some to call for more direct attention to the ways institutions frame PD, particularly the practice and process of encouraging institutional change (i.e. institutioning). Building on this work, we introduce the idea of institutional constraints as particular interactions between PD practices and institutional frames. Using the concepts of thinging, infrastructuring, and commoning as analytical lenses on three empirical cases found within so-called smart city efforts, we identify, name, and describe three provisional institutional constraints—the sandbox, the administrative gap, and the ideological mismatch. These institutional constraints provide concrete articulations of PD’s form within neoliberalization—a form marked by circumscribed, austere, opaque, and fraught interventions inextricable from processes of urbanization. As a first step for contemporary PD processes and research, we argue that the empirical description of institutional constraints is a means to assess the contemporary limitations of PD and a resource to create new strategies and tactics for doing PD in the contemporary public realm.

Maurizio Teli, Peter Lyle, Mariacristina Sciannamblo
Institutioning the common. The case of Commonfare

Participatory Design (PD) has recently seen efforts to reinvigorate its political capacity, including reflections on the relations between its practices and institutions and a renewed political agenda in the contemporary stage of capitalism, such as the one of nourishing the common. This paper addresses both of these directions, questioning how a renewed political agenda of PD intersects the processes of institutioning in which PD itself takes part. To do that, we refer to an European-funded project called Commonfare, aimed at designing a digital platform fostering the emergence of a new economic model in the domain of the institutions of the welfare state. We conclude by discussing how a PD political agenda based on the critique of the current forms of capitalism aligns with or challenges existing institutional frames, supporting the emergence of new institutions.

Full paper track 3: LEARNING & EDUCATION

Thursday 23rd of August
09:00 – 10:30
Hasselt University, in the Old Prison

Ole Sejer Iversen, Rachel Charlotte Smith, Christian Dindler
From Computational Thinking to Computational Empowerment: A 21st Century PD Agenda

We propose computational empowerment as an approach and a Participatory Design response to challenges related to digitalization of society and the emerging need for digital literacy in K12 education. Our approach extends the current focus on computational thinking to include contextual, human-centred and societal challenges and impacts involved in students’ creative and critical engagement with digital technology. Our research is based on the FabLab@School project, in which a PD approach to computational empowerment provided opportunities as well as further challenges for the complex agenda of digital technology in education. We argue that PD has the potential to drive a computational empowerment agenda in education by connecting political PD with contemporary visions for addressing a future digitalized labour market and society.

Jörn Christiansson, Erik Grönvall, Signe Louise Yndigegn
Teaching Participatory Design using Live Projects: Critical Reflections and Lessons Learnt

There are few examples of academic work that describe Participatory Design (PD) and Co-design instruction. This paper presents experiences from four years of teaching a university course on Co-design and PD to an average of 57 students per year. A main part of our pedagogical approach is the implementation of Donald Schön’s concept of a reflective practicum, via a mandatory ‘live’ project that runs for the whole semester. We discuss the potential and challenges of teaching PD and Co-design to large classes using live projects, including how to give students first-hand experience of the whole PD process, how to coach students in collecting and using field data, and what expectations of a Co-design process and its participants are realistic. The paper also examines how PD-related challenges affect teaching PD as an academic subject.

Wolmet Barendregt, Peter Börgesson, Eva Eriksson, Olof Torgersson, Tilde Bekker, Helle Marie Skovbjerg
Modelling the Roles of Designers and Teaching Staff when Doing Participatory Design with Children in Special Education

In this paper we focus on the relational work when doing PD with children in special education as a hybrid practice, meaning that the designer aims to perform design activities with children in their own environment. Based on the experiences of a three-year project in a special education school, we first present a two-dimensional model for ’who participates with whom in what’, describing the agency that the designer may need to both plan and execute design activities in relation to the teachers and the children. Thereafter, we relate those two dimensions to different kinds of authority that the designer might wish to have and avoid to have, and provide examples of the backstage work with children and teaching staff that may occur in order to gain the right kind of authority. Finally, we discuss the designer’s relational work to balance the different kinds of authority and what may happen if there are mismatches between the different stakeholders’ expectations about authority. While we are aware that it is not possible for a designer to precisely foresee how their presence in a special education school will play out, this paper aims to provide a critical reflection on our participatory practices which may help other designers to be prepared for the situations they may encounter in their own work in special education schools.

Full paper track 4: COMPLICATED THINGS

Thursday 23rd of August
11:00 – 13:00
Hasselt University, in the Old Prison

Karen S. Baker, Helena Karasti
Data Care and Its Politics: Designing for Local Collective Data Management as a Neglected Thing

In this paper, we think with Puig de la Bellacasa’s ‘matters of care’ about how to support data care and its politics. We use the notion to reflect on participatory design activities in two recent case studies of local collective data management in ecological research. We ask “How to design for data care?” and “How to account for the politics of data care in design?” Articulation of data care together with ethically and politically significant data issues in design, reveals in these cases the invisible labors of care by local data advocates and a ‘partnering designer’. With digital data work in the sciences increasing and data infrastructures for research under development at a variety of large scales, the local level is often considered merely a recipient of services rather than an active participant in design of data practices and infrastructures. We identify local collective data management as a ‘neglected thing’ in infrastructure planning and speculate on how things could be different in the data landscape.

Jennyfer Lawrence Taylor, Alessandro Soro, Margot Brereton
New Literacy Theories for Participatory Design: Lessons from Three Design Cases with Australian Aboriginal Communities

Literacy and power are closely entwined, and not all literacy practices are equally supported and recognised within dominant discourses and political structures. Technology design offers new possibilities for supporting culturally-diverse literacy practices, including the preservation and maintenance of endangered languages. While literacy is an inherent aspect of design work, theories of literacy as a social practice encompassing a variety of different senses and modes of expression are under-utilised within the design community. We survey the current landscape on literacy and design, and illustrate how six lenses of new literacy theory articulated by Kathy Mills [1] can support us to be more attentive to the literacy practices enacted in design through their application to three design cases with Australian Aboriginal communities. Finally, we reflect on our own Digital Community Noticeboard project to contribute four ways that new literacy theory can inform participatory design.

Christopher Frauenberger, Marcus Foth, Geraldine Fitzpatrick
On Scale, Dialectics, and Affect: Pathways for Proliferating Participatory Design

The Participatory Design (PD) community is committed to continuously refine its technological, social, political, and scientific agenda, and as a result, PD has become more widely adopted, robust, and sophisticated. Yet, PD’s advancement cannot end here. The gap between those who can contribute to the shaping of future technologies and those who are reduced to consumers, has – if anything – widened on a grand scale. In response, we argue through three lenses: scale, dialectics, and affect in PD, and suggest some pathways to build bridges, foster alliances, and evolve PD practice to proliferate the democratisation in technology design that has been a strong value driving PD. Scale asks about ways for PD to extend its reach without giving up on its core qualities. Dialectics is about creating and maintaining the spaces and fora for constructive conflict by networking and linking with other stakeholders, organisations, and domains. Finally, affect discusses how PD can put forward democratic visions of technological futures that connect to people’s hearts, acknowledging that decisions are often made irrationally and unconsciously. Our review draws attention to opportunities for PD to travel between different contexts and proliferate through interconnected and intermediary knowledge and an embodied literacy that enables PD to reach further into industry, government, and community.

Yoko Akama, Ann Light
Practices of Readiness: Punctuation, Poise and the Contingencies of Participatory Design

How do we ready ourselves to intervene responsively in the contingent situations that arise in co-designing to make change? How do we attune to group dynamics and respond ethically to unpredictable developments when working with ‘community’? Participatory Design (PD) can contribute to social transitions, yet its focus is often tightly tuned to technique for designing ICT at the cost of participatory practice. We challenge PD conventions by addressing what happens as we step into a situation to alter it with others, an aspect of practice that cannot be replicated or interchanged. We do so to argue that practices of readiness are constituted by personal histories, experiences, philosophies and culture. We demonstrate this political argument by giving reflexive accounts of our dimensions of preparation. The narratives here are distinct, yet reveal complementary theories and worldviews that shape PD ontologies. We have organized these around the qualities of punctuation and poise as a way to draw out some less easily articulated aspects of PD practice.


Friday 24th of August
9:00 – 11:00
Hasselt University, in the Old Prison

Katrien Dreessen , Selina Schepers
The roles of adult-participants in the back- and frontstage work of Participatory Design processes involving children

A vast body of literature is dedicated to the roles of designers and participants in Participatory Design (PD) processes and more specifically to the roles both fulfil in frontstage design activities. By describing ‘Making Things!’, a long-term PD process in which a collaboration with a local youth work organisation is set up to design workshops together with children and youth workers, we focus on the different roles adult-participants take on in the front-and backstage activities of these processes. Departing from an existing typology of the different roles (adult) participants fulfil in PD processes, we describe in detail the different roles of youth worker ‘Abby’ in the front-and backstage activities of ‘Making Things!’. The case analysis showed a need in re-defining some roles or even defining new ones. Furthermore, the paper contributes to a growing interest for these backstage activities and the importance of relational agency and symbiotic agreements in PD processes.

Alice Victoria Brown, Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Refugee and Post-Trauma Journeys in the Fuzzy Front End of Co-Creative Practices

Co-creation with people who have experienced being refugees, particularly those with histories of varied traumatic experiences, is an endeavour that requires both care and rigorous conversation among design researchers. In this paper, we reflect upon our co-creative journey that took place alongside young Australians who have recently arrived in Australia as refugees, focusing on their first twelve months of settlement. We identify design opportunities for providing greater care for young people who have experienced being refugees in Australia where there are considerable current legal and social constraints, so that beyond simply coping, they may be supported in experiencing posttraumatic growth. Further, we detail the difficulty in ensuring participants are ready to envision potential futures throughout the co-creative process, alongside the potential in creative activities found in this process to become space for participants to reflect on and form a cohesive narrative of their experiences, and identify their care needs. We argue for the need for creative activities such as those found in our co-creative workshops and creative kits to take place beyond the research realm; to address frictions within trusted networks as a means of improving the settlement experience and the care that it entails towards experiences of posttraumatic growth.

Netta Iivari, Marianne Kinnula
Empowering Children through Design and Making: towards Protagonist Role Adoption

Inviting children to adopt a Protagonist role regarding technology has recently become advocated. Such a role embraces the original political participatory design (PD) agenda and aims at empowerment of children through design and making. However, so far the literature is limited in exploring the adoption of this role by children. While studies have reported experiences of engaging children in design and making activities, in-depth inquiries on children’s experiences and challenges involved are lacking. We also maintain that the PD community has so far neglected education of children –in participation, design and technology –as our task and duty. This study reports findings from a design and making project aiming at empowerment of children, carried out in school context. We show that adopting the Protagonist role is not easy and there is a lot of variety between children. We present children’s experiences and reflect on the challenges involved in progressing towards Protagonist role adoption.

Katta Spiel, Emeline Brulé, Christopher Frauenberger, Gilles Bailly, Geraldine Fitzpatrick
Micro-Ethics for Participatory Design with Marginalised Children

Marginalised children are uniquely vulnerable within western societies. Conducting participatory design research with them comes with particular ethical challenges, some of which we illustrate in this paper. Through several examples across two different participatory design projects (one with autistic children, another with visually impaired children), we reflect on the often overlooked tensions on the level of micro-ethics. We argue we are often required to rely on multiple moral frames of references. We discuss issues that the immediate interaction between researchers and marginalised children in participatory projects can bring and offer an under-standing of how micro-ethics manifest in these collaborations. We contribute to a theoretical exploration of ethical encounters based on empirical grounds, which can guide other researchers in their participatory endeavours.