The Design of Pseudo-Participation

Victoria Palacin, Matti Nelimarkka, Pedro Reynolds-Cuellar, Christoph Becker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Participation is key to building an equitable, realistic and democratic future. Yet a lack of agency in decision making and agenda-setting is a growing phenomenon in the design of digital public services. We call this pseudo-participation by and in design. The configuration of digital artifacts and/or processes can provide an illusion of participation but lack supportive processes and affordances to allow meaningful participation to happen. This exploratory paper examines the realm of pseudo-participation in the design of public digital services through two concepts: 1) pseudo-participation by design, digital interfaces, and tools that provide the illusion of participation to the people, 2) pseudo-participation in design, processes in which those affected by the design decisions are marginalized and not given any agency. We contribute to the re-imagination of participatory design in modern societies where the role of politics has become ubiquitous and is yet to be critically scrutinized by designers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploratory Papers and Workshops
EditorsChiara Del Gaudio, Leonardo Parra-Agudelo, Rachel Clarke, Joanna Saad-Sulonen, Andrea Botero, Andrea Botero, Felipe Cesar Londono, Felipe Cesar Londono, Paula Andrea Escandon Suarez
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450377003
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book
EventParticipatory Design Conference: Participation(s) otherwise - Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia
Duration: 15 Jun 202019 Jun 2020
Conference number: 16

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceParticipatory Design Conference
Abbreviated titlePDC
Internet address


  • digital services
  • pseudo-participation by design
  • pseudo-participation in design
  • technocratic clientelism
  • user configuration


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