Dissonance and diplomacy: coordination of conflicting values in urban co-design
Journal article, 2022

This article seeks to contribute to the ongoing discussion on values in co-design processes, by introducing concepts from the emerging field of valuation studies. Using the work of David Stark and Ignacio Farías as an entry point to this perspective, it shows how co-design can be understood as a collective process of finding negotiated settlements among conflicting accounts of value, through practices of coordination. This idea is illustrated by a case in which co-design is mobilised as a tool for developing and governing ‘active frontages’ in a regenerating district in Gothenburg, Sweden. The article shows how the valuation studies perspective relates to, and in part differs from, other approaches to collaborative and participatory design. While sharing some of the intuitions of both agonism- and actor-network theory-informed approaches, its front-staging of practices and principles of valuation does nevertheless provide an alternative perspective on co-design. The valuation approach depicts co-design processes as a negotiation-based search for settlements, which suspends rather than solves value conflicts. Thus, co-design may be construed as a form of diplomacy, which operates within certain political limits of designerly peacemaking.


Stefan Molnar

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

Karl Palmås

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society


1571-0882 (ISSN) 1745-3755 (eISSN)

Vol. 18 4 416-430

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories


Civil Engineering


Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)



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