Participatory Tensions in Working with a Vulnerable Population

Published in PDC 2018, 2018

Recommended citation: Gautam, A., Shrestha, C., Kulak, A., Harrison, S., & Tatar, D. (2018). Participatory Tensions in Working with a Vulnerable Population. In Proceedings of the 15th Participatory Design Conference: Short Papers, Situated Actions, Workshops and Tutorial-Volume 2. http://aakashg58.github.io/files/pdc2018.pdf

This note uncovers a design tension in participatory design practicein the context of two organizations in Nepal working on reducing sex-trafficking and helping survivors. The dilemma consists of contradictions between the public face that the organizations present to the world and the more complex underlying picture painted by survivors. In initial work, we created and deployed a value-elicitation game for survivors that gave us better access to their voices. However, the implications for ongoing participatory work remain to beunpacked. The veneer may constitute a necessary part of the staffs’ successful interactions with external funders. The survivors rely on the resources that the organization gathers, yet the veneer may also obscure some aspects of the survivors’ needs. The question raised is “how should our PD practice position itself with respect to the ideal of comprehensive democratic participation when potential harm may ensue to vulnerable people?”

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Recommended citation: Gautam, A., Shrestha, C., Kulak, A., Harrison, S., & Tatar, D. (2018). Participatory Tensions in Working with a Vulnerable Population. In Proceedings of the 15th Participatory Design Conference: Short Papers, Situated Actions, Workshops and Tutorial-Volume 2.