Quasi-Quisling: co-design and the assembly of collaborateurs
Journal article, 2015
In recent years, various critiques of participative approaches to design processes have been presented. Participatory urban planning has been subject to a specific form of criticism, which posits that such processes are ‘post-political’, inasmuch as they merely legitimise the power and political agendas of elites. In reviewing a case of participatory urban planning in Gothenburg, Sweden, this article suggests that actor-network theory can be operationalised as an alternative means to account for democratic deficiencies of co-design practices. It thus uses the concept of translation to describe how the original interests of participants may be betrayed, as successive translations cause objectives to drift. It also suggests that the key agency in these unfortunate betrayals is not human, but emerges through the material modes of collaboration. The article thus endeavours to contribute to the debate on how co-design processes may become more effective means to democratise urban planning and design.