21.03.2023

Online Event: Participatory Design and Worker Rights in the Age of Standardised Software.

On 21 March, we discussed together with Prof. Bødker, Aarhus University, participatory design and worker rights in the age of standardised software

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Participatory Design & Workers Rights in the Age of Standardised Software

Software is increasingly important for daily work and management decisions. But workplace software is increasingly ‘off-the-shelf,’ rather than designed for the specific needs of particular workplaces, and developed by a few major multinationals. How can workers have influence here? 

On 21 March we discussed these issues together with Professor Susanne Bødker, Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University in Denmark. Her keynote was based on her article on ´reimagining participatory design´ and focused on the state of the participatory design tradition, and its potential for empowering workers in today´s digitised workplace. 

Impact in Workplace Technology

Participatory design was developed in the Nordic context, with strong unions and relatively ‘local’ control over technology development. Participatory design methods have been adopted beyond the Nordics and beyond the workplace, in areas such as health technology and game design—and in this way have had major ‘mainstream’ impact.

At the same time, the participatory design community seems to be grappling with the question of how to continue to have impact in workplace technology in the contemporary technical and organizational landscape. Unions’ influence has declined in many jurisdictions and most workplace software is now made by external vendors. This raises questions, such as: Who are the partner organizations for participatory design practitioners? And how can these partners develop the legitimacy and institutional power to exert real influence over workplace technology practice?

This event was organised in cooperation with :

  • Joanna Bronowicka, European University Viadrina
  • Christina Colclough, Why Not Lab
  • Michael Six Silberman, University of Oxford

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