A Ritual Process Framework for Participatory Activities: The Case of a Boardroom Drama

  • Brendon Clark
Keywords: facilitation, role-play, ritual process, liminality


This paper develops the argument that framing participatory activities as design rituals, with the facilitator as ritual leader, researchers and practitioners can plan and analyze activities in relation to the reorganization of symbols of meaning and social relationships, and the work these reorganizations perform. This contribution arises in the search for analytic tools that help increase the effectiveness and relevance of participatory practices in a variety of activities and settings throughout the span of design projects (i.e. meetings, presentations, workshops). The paper analyzes the role of the facilitator during a boardroom role-play activity in a company setting, through the lens of structure and anti-structure during the three stages of the ritual process: separation, liminality, and re-incorporation. The dual framework (ritual frame and play frame) of the example illuminates how symbols of power are leveraged to make available certain possibilities, while discouraging other possibilities, as well as the central role the facilitator plays in the production of the process.
Exploratory Papers - Session (1): Methods for Participant Engagement