The influence of local powers on participatory design processes in marginalized conflict areas

Chiara Del Gaudio, Alfredo Jefferson de Oliveira, Carlo Franzato


This paper explores the influence of local forces on Participatory Design processes aiming at promoting access and inclusion, carried out in marginalized conflict areas. Social contexts are the synthesis of the forces exerted by local actors which become more and more influent on contextual dynamics in situations of local instability and struggles. We present and analyse a Participatory Design project developed in a Rio de Janeiro slum, within an NGO. Through a conceptual framework on power and on its exercise, we explain how project partners, participants, and local institutions and groups have influenced the project, to the point of preventing its implementation. The intention is to show how the context may condition the design project, to point out the difficulties in acting in conflict areas and to present factors that will help designers in dealing with them.

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