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Dealing with Dilemmas: Participatory Approaches in Design for Social Innovation

Open Access:

Emilson, Anders; Hillgren, Per-Anders; Seravalli, Anna. (2011): “Dealing with Dilemmas: Participatory Approaches in Design for Social Innovation”, Swedish Design Research Journal no 1, 2011:23-29.

ABSTRACT – In recent years, design for social innovation has emerged as a new research field. Design has been acknowledged by public agencies and NGOs as one of the tools to tackle the complexity of social issues. However, critical voices have also been raised about the limits and gaps of design applied in this field, emphasizing the need for connections with other disciplines involved in social innovation. These critiques stress that designers engaged with social issues need to reflect on their weaknesses in order to avoid to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and being naive. With a background in participatory design we have developed some practical approaches that we present in this article as a possible way for dealing with the weaknesses of design when applied in social innovation.