Democratic practices remain an ongoing concern in Participatory Design (PD), with an increasing focus being directed towards citizens’ roles in formal decision-making processes. Linking to such concerns, this article explores the potential of John Dewey’s democratic vision as a political frame for PD. As a means of pursuing this, we reference an ongoing Design Innovation research programme, which has, over the last decade, investigated the potential of PD methods in community contexts in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Alongside the programme, we also explore an emerging public participation agenda in Scottish policy-making. Noting some challenges in relation to the agenda’s implementation, we propose that design can play a role in helping to realise the potential which it affords. To illustrate this, we present an exemplar case drawn from our research programme and, in doing so, demonstrate how Dewey’s vision allows us to both rationalise past action and prospect future activity in relation to policy-making concerns. To conclude, we outline what we see to be the key value of adopting the Deweyan democratic vision as a political frame within PD in general.
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- Design innovation
- participatory design
- John Dewey