The problems with participation

Authored by: Atau Tanaka , Adam Parkinson

The Routledge Research Companion to Electronic Music

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472472915
eBook ISBN: 9781315612911
Adobe ISBN:


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Participation is a broad and attractive notion which has become commonplace and even expected in contemporary creative practice. This chapter looks at different ways in which the concept of participation is deployed and critically explores some of the issues and problems which arise. The chapter proceeds through self-reflexive case studies of five projects with which the authors were involved, spanning from 2008–2015. These projects span fields including human-computer interaction (HCI), participatory design, DIY music electronics, live electronic music and accessibility research. In each of these projects discussed, participation was a key factor in their conception, delivery and raison-d’être. Drawing on these case studies and critical theory surrounding participation, the authors interrogate whether these trends towards participation are the manifestation of a utopian vision or, in fact, the complete opposite.

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