Health, Education and Employment

Articulating Axial Themes Through Participatory Design Processes
Part of the Contemporary Systems Thinking book series (CST)


Participatory design is fraught with many difficulties and it is vital to consider complexity at every stage of the intervention and the very process of intervention itself. Who should be involved, why and how and in whose interests? The main challenge is that no so-called community is homogeneous and so we always have to consider the complexity of the community in which we are working. The mental maps vary by age, gender, language, level of income, kinship ties, political position and experience in town or in country, to mention just a few aspects of diversity. When we work with the stakeholders as outsiders we can be unaware of the power dynamics at work. We may think we are doing one thing, but in fact may be pawns in a chess game of which we are quite unaware (or if we are lucky we may have some insights into the multiple and cross cutting issues at stake). Also it is a good idea to look explicitly at the issues of ontological maps or maps of knowledge and the way they differ across the different participants and of course the way our own maps intersect with the diverse interest groups in the community. We may be told that ‘everyone agrees’, but in fact it may only be those with the most power. Our participatory planning may help to entrench a particular interest group without our even realising it.


International System Science Gender Group Participatory Action Research Housing Association Healthy City 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flinders Institute of Public Policy and ManagementFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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