Participatory Design for Political Reimagining: Participation Requests, Community Empowerment and Democratic Innovation in Scotland

Cara Broadley, Brian Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Over the last decade, a growing body of research has explored the potential of applying design approaches within policymaking, resulting in the emergence of a novel practice, termed ‘design for policy’. While largely successful, questions remain regarding the specifics of the design for policy process. In this, key points of contention relate to the way government-citizen deliberation and collaboration is framed (i.e., who gets to participate in design for policy initiatives and how), as well as the of the role of design within the process (i.e., is it a means of problem-solving or problem-framing). Responding to these challenges by examining the potential of a specific design approach—Participatory Design (PD)—in design for policy, the present article turns to the Scottish policymaking context. Here, we present a case study of a project titled Social Studios, which explored how PD might enable communities to better approach Participation Requests (PRs) – a mechanism within the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act (2015) that allows groups to engage with public authorities on local issues relating to infrastructure and services. From an initial overview of the context of the study, we describe its methods, process and, finally, its outcome—a bespoke ‘PR Toolbox’. The article then closes with a series of reflections on the broader potential of PD in the context of design for policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Design and Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Participatory Design
  • Participation Requests
  • Communities
  • Engagement
  • Empowerment
  • Scotland

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