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Human–Computer Interaction
Volume 11, 1996 - Issue 3: Current Perspectives on Participatory Design
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Original Articles
Creating Conditions for Participation: Conflicts and Resources in Systems Development
Sussane Bodker
Pages 215-236 | Published online: 11 Nov 2009
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User participation has been recognized as a way of gaining more knowledge about work and improving the quality of the computer application to be designed. Often the problems of user participation have been discussed from the point of view of researchers getting access to the users. Yet user participation should also be seen from the point of view of the conditions of the participation process-that is, how the conditions are set for the users to participate with designers (and managers). Experiences from participatory design projects show problems that participatory design research needs to deal with. This article suggests that the Scandinavian collective resource projects can help research in this process. However, these projects were carried out under circumstances quite different from those of corporations in the 1990s, and this fact must certainly be considered when investigating the creation of conditions for participation. The article presents a recent project, AT project, to discuss the concerns and conditions of participatory design projects today. In the AT project, the actors differed from the collective resource projects in that the actors included several different groups of workers as well as management. This caused the project to focus on resource acquisition for the whole organization as well as groups within it. Part of the idea was to utilize standard technology; at the same time, the project was to develop and implement overall visions about the use of computer technology in the organization. Inspired by philosophical approaches to human development, this article reconsiders the resources acquired in such settings and juxtaposes the work of setting up a technical platform for everyday use with the expansive codevelopment of accompanying visions. The article goes on to suggest that new alliances between groups in organizations-with due concern for their diversity of resources, and with constructive use of the conflicts inherent in the organization-can be a way forward in empowering organizations, making room for groups and individuals within them to act.
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