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You are the Expert…

January 5, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

“Participatory design practitioners share the view that every participant is an expert in how they live their lives and that design ideas arise in collaboration with participants from diverse backgrounds.”

…wisdom gleaned from this article about embarking on a participatory design project in collaboration with an under-served people group. While I like the idea of participatory research, once I read the article, it seems that in theory it’s ideal but in practice…not so much. The article was full of things that hadn’t worked out and anecdotes of trials and challenges.

Perhaps people not knowing they are “experts” in how they live their lives mucks things up, thus they look to the academic in the room to model expert behavior which only further complicates things? Perhaps before you embark on participatory research you need to provide participants with some self efficacy training? Or you yourself must be incarnated into the community so that you’re not perceived as the all-knowing outsider, come down to “save the world?” Interesting stuff indeed and something that I think will be timely for my own research.

Hussain, S., Sanders, E. B.-N., & Steinert, M. (2012). Participatory design with marginalized people in developing countries: Challenges and opportunities experienced in a field study in Cambodia. International Journal of Design, 6(2), 91-109.

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