Participatory Design usually happens in ritualized gathering where participants enact their political positions and build things together. The workshop creates an ephemeral horizontal power structure where people from the lowest level can work with medium an top level of the hierarchy.
From what I observe so far in the Healthcare Construction Industry, where I conduct my PhD, this tactic won’t work. Unlike usual Participatory Design contexts, there is no single organization to work with. Each construction project is an assemblage of many companies working together with government representatives and clients. Each of them have their hierarchical structure, but typically they interact in a horizontal fashion for the purposes of the project.
In order to scale for complex organizations such as Construction Projects, Participatory Design may need to get into the process of actual working, making it a routine procedure. Instead of having a big consultation moment in a workshop, having a lot of small opportunities for participation. Instead of a decentralized network, a distributed one.
First I’ll look into how collaboration among project partners happens today and then I’ll see if I can hijack some participation into it. Let’s dive into the rhizome!