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Unpacking the Notion of Participation in Participatory Design

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The paper explores what exactly it is that users participate in when being involved in participatory design (PD), relating this discussion to the CSCW perspective on collaborative design work. We argue that a focus on decision-making in design is necessary for understanding participation in design. Referring to Schön we see design as involving creating choices, selecting among them, concretizing choices and evaluating the choices. We discuss how these kinds of activities have played out in four PD projects that we have participated in. Furthermore, we show that the decisions are interlinked, and discuss the notion of decision linkages. We emphasize the design result as the most important part of PD. Finally, participation is discussed as the sharing of power, asking what the perspective of power and decision-making adds to the understanding of design practices.


Bratteteig, Tone; Wagner, Ina (42705): Unpacking the Notion of Participation in Participatory Design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 25, No. 6. DOI: 10.1007/s10606-016-9259-4. Springer. PISSN: 1573-7551. pp. 425-475