6.17 Robinson, T. and J. Simonsen (2012): “Participatory Design: An introduction”, in J. Simonsen and T. Robinson (Eds.): Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design, Routledge, pp. 1-18.

The aim of this book is to provide a current account of the commitments and contributions of research and practice in the Participatory Design of information technologies. An overview of the central concepts that have defined and shaped the field is provided as an introduction to the more detailed focus of later chapters. The target audience is identified, and the structure of the book explained. A short description of each chapter highlights its particular contributions as well as the associated challenges facing designers and researchers engaged in participatory approaches. The chapter concludes with some guidance and recommendations for further reading.

An introduction to Participatory Design is followed by explanations of how practitioners and researchers in the field understand participation and practice and how design is approached as a process driven by social interaction and engagement. The structure of the book is described, individual chapters introduced and further relevant publications listed.

Essentially this chapter introduces, motivates, and grounds the book and the chapters that follow. It provides basic definitions of the core concepts of Participatory Design and explains both their origins and ongoing relations to the motivations and commitments of researchers and practitioners who use participatory approaches in their work. The chapter provides the foundation to account for the structure of the book: one section focusing on some of the different perspectives in the field and their particular contributions and challenges and another section that presents case studies of three outstanding applications of Participatory Design.

If we are to design the futures we wish to live then we need those, whose futures they will be, to actively participate in their design. This is why it is so important that Participatory Design keeps developing the design processes, tools, techniques, and methods needed to enable full and active participation in all kinds of design activities.