On scale, dialectics, and affect: pathways for proliferating participatory design

  • Christopher Frauenberger
  • Marcus Foth
  • Geraldine Fitzpatrick


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.

Full text at ACM

SESSION: Complicated things