Making and its promises

Silvia Lindtner, Cindy Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A fundamental goal of Participatory Design (PD) scholarship has long been the democratisation of technology production. To democratise technology production in PD is a political project, driven in part by the desire to protect and create democratic societies by virtue of opening up computing and design. Recently, DIY (do it yourself) making has come to be seen by PD scholars as rejuvenating such ideals at the heart of their project. Beyond just PD, the idea that making is an ideal avenue to implement societal and political change has been endorsed by a variety of actors from politicians, corporates and activists, across regions. In this paper, we draw from long-term ethnographic research in China and Indonesia to show how making’s global appeal does not arise from its supposedly inherent logic of democratisation. Rather, work goes into aligning making with particular political ideals. We found that the political projects and promises people attached to making were highly situated. We propose that by recognising this multitude of promises attached to making we can better understand opportunities for intervention, rather than assume that making will by virtue of its commitment to open-ness and participation inherently lead to a more democratic and participatory society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-82
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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