Re-politicising Participatory Design: What can we learn from Fairphone

van der Velden, Maja (2014). "Re-politicising Participatory Design: What can we learn from Fairphone". Ninth International Conference on Culture and Technology and Communication (CaTaC). Oslo, Norway, 19-20 June, 2014

This exploratory paper is a contribution to the discussion of the re-politisation of Participatory Design. After a brief introduction of this Scandinavian design tradition, the Fairphone, a sustainable and fair mobile phone, is introduced as a case to rethink design as politics. Concern for planetary destruction, as a result of climate change, motivates the discussion of Tony Fry's notion of redirective design in the analysis of the Fairphone. Is the Fairphone just 'less bad' or is it paradigmatic example of an alternative technological vision? There are many lessons to be learned from Fairphone, not just by Participatory Design. Most importantly, Fairphone shows the importance of relating the things we help design to futures that become possible or impossible. Participatory Design, with its focus on democratic practices and 'having a say', needs to find ways to bring the voices of future generations into today's design practices.
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van der Velden, Maja