Participatory Design’s vision of democratic participation assumes participants’ feelings of agency in envisioning a collective future. But this assumption may be leaky when dealing with vulnerable populations. We reflect on the results of a series of activities aimed at supporting agentic-future-envisionment with a group of sex-trafficking survivors in Nepal. We observed a growing sense among the survivors that they could play a role in bringing about change in their families. They also became aware of how they could interact with available institutional resources. Reflecting on the observations, we argue that building participant agency on the small and personal interactions is necessary before demanding larger Political participation. In particular, a value of PD, especially for vulnerable populations, can lie in the process itself if it helps participants position themselves as actors in the larger world.
A recorded presentation can be seen here
Recommended citation: Gautam, A., Harrison, S., & Tatar, D. (2020). p for political: Participation Without Agency Is Not Enough. In Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference (PDC’20)