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

Posted September 2022 content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium.