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Aarhus 2015 WS: Unfolding Participation

Call for position papers

The aim of the Unfolding Participation workshop is to outline an agenda for the next 10 years of participatory design and participatory HCI research. We will do that through a double strategy: 1) by critically interrogating the concept of participation (unfolding the concept itself), while at the same time, 2) reflecting on the way that participation unfolds across different participatory configurations. We will continue the discussion started by Halskov and Hansen (2014) and Vines et al. (2012) related to the current fuzziness in defining participation in participatory design and participatory HCI research, and ask: What counts as participation in IT-related fields? How does participation unfold over time and across different participatory configurations?

PD research has a strong history in participation for democratic goals and has brought forward the need to consider these goals while at the same time opening up participation in the design of IT. So far, participation in PD research has often taken place through exploratory design projects and single design events (e.g. an ethnographic field study or a workshop), where issues such as ‘involving users’, including the users point of view, and participation as a matter of mutual learning have been in the foreground. Today, we witness many different other types of participations that also combine IT and politics, but not in the traditional PD manner. For example, participation related to decision-making, dialogue and debate around matters of concern are increasingly occurring online, mediated by IT during use time. What does this mean for PD? There is a pressing need to explore how staged participation unfolds over time and design events and how it might link to other forms of participation.

The workshop will kick start joint reflection on shaping a research agenda around participation for the next ten years by identifying challenges that PD and participatory HCI would need to debate. Given that the issues invoked here cross many disciplinary boundaries, we invite submissions from researchers and practitioners from a myriad of fields and disciplines to bring a plurality of perspectives and expertise related to participation. We therefore invite work from not just those situated in participatory design and human-computer interaction but also from fields such as political studies, urban planning, participatory arts, business, and science and technology studies, among others. Potential participants are asked to reflect on the following: i) How has participation unfolded in projects or case studies in which they have been involved (during and in-between design events)? ii) How has it connected to types of participations other than design events? iii) How does their own participatory practice relate to IT-mediated participation and participatory IT specifically?

The workshop aims to bring forward the need for a contemporary take on participation and how it relates to democracy, and IT. Where do these concerns stand now when focus has for a while been more on the staging of participation through design events, but also when IT is increasingly mediating other forms of participation?

The key issues to address include (but are not limited to):

  • How can we map, analyse and reflect on how participation is unfolding over time and participatory configurations?
  • How does participation during and in-between design events link to other forms of participation, such as what is increasingly being referred to as infrastructuring? 
  • What do participatory IT and IT mediated participation mean during and in-between design events?
  • What are current democratic drivers for participation?
  • What are possible combinations of different types of participation (design of IT + others)?
  • When we talk about participation, do we mean the same thing in different fields? How to engage in exchange and collaboration with other fields that also deal with participation, but also with all those involved in practice?
  • What are the challenges for participation in large-scale or ephemeral configurations?

The above mentioned key issues can be addressed and expanded by reflecting on these more general challenges related to participation and how they unfold in the particular context of participation with and for IT:

  • The shaping and unfolding of the participatory processes over time: What are the conditions that shape participation? What are the dynamics of participations? How and when can participation be sustained, and why? What is the role of IT?
  • The boundaries of participation: When does participation begin and end?
  • The Scandinavian approach versus others: Scandinavia is the historical home of PD, but also the place where a certain type of democracy has been and is being practiced. How does this shape our practice of participation? Additionally, what does it mean that, at the same time, that we are also part of a wider global reality where different modes of production and sharing are shaping new cultures of participation?


We invite submissions of positions papers as 2-4 pages PDF documents following the SIGCHI publications template. Submissions need to address the main topic of the workshop as well as one or more of the key issues. The optimal number of participants is around 15. Selection will be based on the relevance of the position papers with regards to the theme and key issues of the workshop. 

Please direct queries and submissions to Joanna Saad-Sulonen and Eva Eriksson



At least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop and register for the conference: aarhus2015.org/registration/

Download the full workshop proposal with references here: [PDF

Accepted position papers

Wolmet Barendregt, Peter Börjesson, Eva Eriksson, Olof Torgersson
Getting it Right – Unfolding Factors for Reporting on Participatory Design with Children with Special Needs
Chalmers University of Technology and University of Gothenburg, Department of Applied Information Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Arne Berger, Kevin Lefeuvre, Michael Heidt, Maximilian Eibl
Miteinander: Engaging Intergenerational Participation With Playful Methods & Intelligent Things
Chemnitz University of Technology, Media Informatics, Chemnitz, Germany

Andy Darby, Emmanuel Tsekleves, Peter Sawyer & Ben Shreeve
Exploring Distributed Codesign
Lancaster University, UK

Christopher Frauenberger, Julia Makhaeva, Katharina Spiel
Participation OutsideTheBox
Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria

Katarina L Gidlund
Representation and Partial Participation
Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden

Nicolai Brodersen Hansen & Kim Halskov
PD Research: Informative labeling
PIT & CAVI, Aarhus University

Chris Heape, Henry Larsen, Line Revsbæk
Participation as taking part in an improvised temporal unfolding
SDU Design, Kolding, Denmark

Adriënne Heijnen, Martin Brynskov
Aarhus University

Liesbeth Huybrechts, Sarah Martens, Oswald Devisch
“I do not want to be heard”. Re-emphasising the relationship between long-term participation and decisionmaking
University of Hasselt, ArcK, Diepenbeek, Belgium

Somya Joshi
From the margins looking in: how can social sensors shape policy?
Department of Computer & Systems Science (DSV), University of Stockholm, Sweden

Helena Karasti & Suvi Pihkala
A methodological take on participation: Reflexively constructing the field
Luleå University of Technology & University of Oulu

Helena Kraff
Mapping Participation: Through the Concepts of Contestation and Vulnerability
School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Naomi Lipke
Four Proposed Characteristics of Participation
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Peter Lau Torst Nielsen
Exploring Semantic Infrastructuring
PIT Aarhus, University, Aarhus, Denmark

Suvi Pihkala & Helena Karasti
Reflexive Engagement – Orientation for Addressing Unfolding Participations
University of Oulu & Roskilde University

Joanna Saad-Sulonen
Staged and self-organized participations
Centre for Participatory IT, Aarhus University, Denmark

Jesper Simonsen & Olav Storm Jensen
Contact Quality in Participation
Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark

Van Reusel Hanne, Verbeke Johan, Federica Bonavero, Luca Caneparo, Davide Rolfo
Incubators of Public Spaces; a digital agora to support and empower self-organised participatory processes in urban (re)development
KU Leuven Brussels, Belgium & Politecnico Torino, Italy