Stuff Matters in Participation: Infrastructuring a Co-Sewing Café

Anja-Lisa Hirscher, Ramia Maze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This paper explores how acts of use and participation can be better understood and articulated in relation to the socio-material and spatial conditions of “infrastructuring”. Infrastructuring is framed here as an object of design research and of design research, comprising the social activities and skills as well as the material tools and “stuff” that are integral to alternative spaces of production such as Fab Labs and makerspaces. We bring together theories from three different areas of research (peer production, Participatory Design and social practice theory), building a conceptual framework that is used to analyze extensive empirical material gathered while initiating, running and researching a ‘co-sewing café’ over 18 months with hundreds of diverse participants. Tracing our understanding of use and participation through literature and case analysis, we use illustrative figures and tables to articulate different types and dimensions of use in relation to one another and in relation to the empirical analysis that is detailed and recounted in various ways. The paper concludes by elaborating how types of use in reference to types of stuff provide insight on participant skills, learning and engagement that can result in change of roles over time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Infrastructuring
  • makerspaces
  • peer production
  • design
  • participatory design
  • user
  • use


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