Structuring Future Social Relations: The Politics of Care in Participatory Practice

Ann Light, Yoko Akama

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the political shifts that take place in participatory design (PD) when the focus is upon co-designing ongoing future societal relations, beyond the immediacy of designing objects or services during project-time. Reflecting on connectedness, it looks at the politics of participation through the lens of people's interdependence, using feminist concepts of 'care' to explore the ethical commitments of designing. In particular, it speaks to Greenbaum's claim, 20 years ago, that 'we have the obligation to provide people with the opportunity to influence their own lives' (1993:47). We explore the questions this raises now, as we design in an increasingly distributed and heterogeneous socio-technical context, to give a contemporary take on long-term commitments to political and ethical outcomes in participatory design. Three contrasting case studies are interrogated to discuss how structuring of social relations was enabled, offering insights into what the politics of care might mean.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPDC '14: Proceedings of the 13th Participatory Design Conference: Research Papers - Volume 1
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781450322560
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event13th Participatory Design Conference 2014 (PDC '14) - Windhoek, Namibia
Duration: 6 Oct 2014 → …


Conference13th Participatory Design Conference 2014 (PDC '14)
Period6/10/14 → …


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