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A Critical Exploration of Agonistic Participatory Design

Journal article
Authors Helena Kraff
Published in Design Journal
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 31-48
ISSN 1460-6925
Publication year 2020
Published at HDK­-Valand - Academy of Art and Design
Mistra Urban Futures
Pages 31-48
Language en
Keywords agonism, participatory design, agonistic participatory design, transferability, Art
Subject categories Design


Agonism is often described as a means for designers and citizens to reveal and contest hegemonies in society. This paper explores how agonism used within participatory design processes can enable participants to question power structures embedded in projects, express diverging views and renegotiate project frames. The potential for reaching the democratic ideals of participation thereby increases. However, there are challenges with agonism that are yet to gain momentum in the design discourse. The purpose of this paper is to identify these challenges. This is done by reflecting on a community-based tourism development project in Kenya. The reflection illustrates that not everybody may feel comfortable with sharing views in democratic forums, that people have varying preconditions for engaging in agonism and that a multitude of hegemonies exists within projects. It also highlights a need to reflect on the transferability of agonism, at a time when participatory design moves across cultures.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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