Examining participation

Victoria Gerrard, Ricardo Sosa


Participatory Design (PD) seeks to promote and regulate the negotiation of social change. Although many methods claim to be participatory, empirical evidence to support them is lacking. Few comprehensive criteria exist to describe and evaluate participation as experienced by stakeholders. There is a need for rigorous research tools to study, validate and improve PD practice. This paper presents the development and initial testing of PartE (Participation Evaluation), an interdisciplinary and intercommunity approach to studying and supporting participation in PD. Semi-structured interviews based on the framework showed it to be useful in: a) revealing differences in how stakeholders view participation and design, b) developing a personal frame of participation c) exploration of the future of participatory practices; and d) suggesting actions to resolve specific challenges or contradictions in participation at a broader level. The paper discusses the need to move away from considering PD as a practice claimed by designers towards a more open dialogue between all stakeholders to collective redefine "Participation and Design" for social change.

Full text at ACM