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Participatory Design and ‘Democratizing Innovation’

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Björgvinsson, Erling, Pelle Ehn, and Per-Anders Hillgren. 2010. Participatory Design and ‘Democratizing Innovation’. Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference (PDC), Sydney, Australia, December 2010.

ABSTRACT – Participatory design has become increasingly engaged in public spheres and everyday life and is no longer solely concerned with the workplace. This is not only a shift from work oriented productive activities to leisure and pleasurable engagements, but also a new milieu for production and innovation and entails a reorientation from “democracy at work” to “democratic innovation”.

What democratic innovation entails is currently defined by management and innovation research, which claims that innovation has been democratized through easy access to production tools and lead-users as the new experts driving innovation.

We sketch an alternative “democratizing innovation” practice more in line with the original visions of participatory design based on our experience of running Malmö Living Labs – an open innovation milieu where new constellations, issues and ideas evolve from bottom-up long-term collaborations amongst diverse stakeholders.

Two cases and controversial matters of concern are discussed. The fruitfulness of the concepts “Things” (as opposed to objects), “infrastructuring” (as opposed to projects) and “agonistic public spaces” (as opposed to consensual decision-making) are explored in relation to participatory innovation practices and democracy.

© ACM, 2010. This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in PDC ’10 Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Participatory Design Conference, ISSN 978-1-4503-0131-2, (December, 2010)

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