Chantal Spencer

University Of Brighton

This presentation is an exploration of changemaking design practices centred around the problematics of engagement through the lens of micro-(im)mobilities (Sheller, 2018, p2) that are reproduced in conventional participatory design and research methodologies. I have observed that traditional social design, co-design and focus group models of academic social research lean heavily on the labour of the oppressed for the gain of those in positions of power.

As a disabled woman with fluctuating health, mental and physical capacities, I must live in an extremely mindful way, measuring my energy levels and outputs like they are granules of gold dust. This gives me a lesser travelled path to and through my research and allows me a particular sensitivity to the burdens that I require of the people whom my work will benefit. With this in mind, as a consistent and defining characteristic of the experiences that myself and others are familiar with, I am working on a theoretical positioning around the principle of minimising the burden of change on the shoulders of the oppressed. I am working towards a balance between paternalistic speaking for others and the ideology of Nothing About Us Without Us (Germon, 2000). Having said that, I feel strongly that intersectional communities should be represented and be in decision-making positions of power and that “in some instances speaking for others constitutes a violence” (Alcoff, 1991). However, I would argue that in many instances requiring others to speak for themselves to attain basic human rights is also a violence. Additionally, we are always speaking for others, even if we identify as a member of that community. Meadows discusses leverage points in the system (Meadows, 1999); my work aims to better understand and communicate the ontological perspectives of marginalised people within the paradigm of change-making and how they manifest as pressure points in the system. I aim to show that careful consideration of this standpoint can be a catalyst to creativity rather than a barrier to overcome.

This presentation includes examples of previous projects that have been designed from this standpoint. I will also be discussing and sharing personal reflections on my own experiences as a disabled woman in academia and the importance of Cripping my work. I will explore ways in which Crip culture can be assimilated into research practices to the benefit of the participants and the researcher.

KEYWORDS: participatory design research, Crip culture, design justice, mobility justice, co-design, systemic injustice

Citation Data

Author(s): Chantal Spencer
Year: 2022
Title: Rethinking Participatory Design Research Methodologies
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 158
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 21 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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