Accepted Paper:

The Power of Invitation: Invoking New Ways of Being as a Participatory Designer  


Ann Light (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The future-oriented practices of some participatory design research are intended to investigate new ways of being. How does the designer's invitation marry with participants' experience to co-create the stagings that might enact social transformation?

Paper long abstract:

The future-oriented practices of some participatory design research are specifically intended to investigate new ways of being. Introducing new arrangements by staging encounters not only brings people together to mutually shape the socio-technical, it can also reveal how the socio-technical might be capable of shaping people (Light 2015). This investigation into transformation has been dubbed "constitutive anthropology" (ibid), with roots in feminist literatures on identity. In this talk, I build on this position by examining the nature of the invitations that serve to bring people together to reveal these potential futures. What kind of potential do these invitations represent? How do they invoke roles, relations and activities and, thus, what does the designer set in motion in planning these engagements? Is there an inherent expectation of behaviour in a call for participation? And how does the designer's imagination and intention marry with participants' shared experience to co-create these stagings? Drawing on my own work on designing futures, conducted over 10+ years, I will discuss the potential for meaningful transformation, the openness of invitations for action and the nature of participant responses, in examining the power of engagement strategies to enact social change. I hope to link this to a wider study of creative practices being used to support and enable transformations towards sustainable societies.

Light, A. (2015) Troubling Futures: can participatory design research provide a constitutive anthropology for the 21st century? Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, N.26, 2015, pp. 81-94

Panel P062
Design Anthropology: Uniting experience and imagination in the midst of social and material transformation