Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Reading :: Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design

Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design
Edited by Jesper Simonsen and Toni Robertson

This 2013 collection does a nice job of pulling the history, theory, ethics, methods, and applications of participatory design together into a single volume. It draws from PD stalwarts such as Kensing, Greenbaum, Bannon, Ehn, Blomberg, Trigg, and Bratteteig (although, regrettably, not Susanne Bodker!) to provide a PD reference of sweeping scope. Although it won't substitute for the friendly case studies of, say, Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems, it covers the past, present, and future of PD in great detail.

For me, the history chapters were the most helpful. I've studied PD history fairly thoroughly, but still learned many things from Robertson and Simonsen's "Participatory design: An introduction" and Kensing and Greenbaum's "Heritage: Having a Say," both of which emphasize PD's focus on practice's epistemological and ethical roles.

Bannon and Ehn's chapter "Design: Design matters in Participatory Design" was similarly useful, situating PD in relationship to various design traditions and examining the design challenges facing PD, specifically as it refocuses on infrastructuring.

Robertson and Wagner's "Ethics: Engagement, representation, and politics-in-action" clearly states PD's differentiator: "people have a basic right to make decisions about how they do their work and indeed any other activities where they might use technology" (p.65).

I've written a very short review for this thick, detailed book. But if you're interested in PD—either in itself or in relation to design or research ethics—it should be on your shelf or in your hands.

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