Participatory Design and Action Reseach: Identical Twins or Synergetic Pair?

  • Marcus Foth
  • Jeff Axup
Keywords: action research, new media, urban neighbourhoods, mobile information sharing, social networks, mobile ethnography


In this paper we explore the similarities and differences of participatory design and action research in a crossdisciplinary fashion. We briefly outline two distinct studies: (1) a design study that examines mobile interactions of backpackers, and (2) an urban sociology study to better understand social networks of apartment residents. The first study follows a participatory design approach. The second study is guided by action research principles. We reflect on the research practice of these two studies in order to discuss the key methodological features of each. We would like to invite the larger participatory design community to continue the comparison and exploration we have begun here. By outlining the tools and techniques, and the application thereof we hope to promote the usefulness of action research for participatory design projects and vice versa.
Exploratory Papers - Session (3): Exploring Spaces and Practices