Design Antropology in Participatory Design

Guest Editors


Rachel Charlotte Smith, Centre for Participatory Information Technology, Aarhus University

Mette Kjærsgaard, SDU Design, University of Southern Denmark


Important dates


• Deadline: September 4, 2015

• Notification to the authors: October 4, 2015 -> October 15, 2015

• Camera ready paper: October 25, 2015 -> November 5, 2015

• Publication of the special issue: second half of November, 2015




In this focus section we explore the opportunities of ethnography and design anthropology in participatory design as an approach to design in an increasingly global and digital world. Traditionally, ethnography has been used in participatory design to research real-life contexts and challenges, and as ways to involve people in defining user-needs and design opportunities. As the boundaries between physical, digital and hybrid spaces and experiences have become increasingly blurred, conventional distinctions between research and design no longer hold. This focus section invites contributors to explore opportunities of using design anthropology as a holistic, reflective and critical approach to societal challenges, and a way for anthropologists and designers to engage in design that extends beyond the empirical.

The section explores theoretical positionings and methodological approaches to ethnography and anthropology in participatory design. 


Topics of Interests


The following themes will be used to discuss relations between researchers, objects and contexts of design anthropology:


• Proximity versus Distance 

• Understanding versus Emergence

• Empathy versus Critique

• Description versus Intervention

• Professional Boundaries vs. Transdisciplinarity 


We welcome participants from all areas of research in PD, interested in exploring the role and position of ethnography and design anthropology in processes of participatory engagement and technology design. Especially we invite participants who are engaged in research through design, theoretical perspectives, and case studies relating to ethnography, design anthropology, and user research for societal challenges and/or development of digital technologies. 




Design anthropology; participatory design; digital technology; hybrid spaces; interaction design


Submission procedure 


All submissions (abstracts and later final manuscripts) must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .rtf format. 
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Perspective participants are invited to submit a 8-14 pages paper (including authors' information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.). 
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors' guidelines .

More information on the submission procedure and on the characteristics of the paper format can be found on the website of IxD&A Journal the where information on the copyright policy and responsibility of authors, publication ethics and malpractice are published.

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:

• rsmith [at] cavi [dot] au [dot] dk

• mgk [at] mci [dot] sdu [dot] dk


marking the subject as: 'IxD&A focus section on: Design Anthropology in Participatory Design'.