CfP: Co-design Special Issue – Repositioning CoDesign in the age of platform capitalism: from sharing to caring

CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts

Contribute to our special issue on “Repositioning Codesign in the Age of Platform Capitalism: From Sharing to Caring”

Potential authors should contact the guest editors at<>  with any questions about the Special Issue.

In this special issue, we are calling for contributions which discuss how co-design is positioning itself in the age of “platform capitalism” (Snricek, 2016). We are looking for both theoretical reflections on the position of co-design and empirical cases of co-design which can shed better light on these dynamics.

Digital platforms, often labelled as part of the “sharing economy”, are becoming increasingly relevant to both the daily lives of private individuals and to the direction and operation of social and political systems. As these tools transform various communities (of interest, place, practice, and circumstance) to establish new forms of connection, welfare, labour, and service, there emerge fundamental questions around the perils of their design and use and the possibilities for thinking about fair alternatives.
Two narratives on the sharing economy tend to dominate the current discourse. One group of accounts focuses on social innovation, creating more sustainable economic and environmental models in which sharing access to goods and services allows for a more efficient and sustainable utilisation of resources. The second group centres on the idea of market-focused digital innovation radically changing business models and generating economic activity, often threatening the working conditions of other social groups (e.g. Uber and the taxi drivers) or the texture of local communities (e.g. the effect of AirBnB on the rental market).

In both cases, a prominent role is played by platforms that seek to quantify collaborations for purposes of profit, labelled as platform capitalism by Snricek (2016). For example, likes and other emoticon-based responses to a Facebook post are often used as quantitative measure of the post’s impact and success of engagement. Through algorithmic filtering, these become the measure of our affective, political, and cultural identities and guides for further design of our experiences on the platform.
In fact, digital platforms are connective and collaborative, creating a digital action point where multiple networks meet. These qualities have been enhanced through the development of on-site collaborative features. However, with the impact of venture capital in the market and increasingly driven by financial motives, many platforms have been adjusting their algorithms in order to commodify collaboration. Hence, novel forms of exploitation (of social relations as well as labour) have been established (van Dijck, 2013).

Co-design, as well as other related domains of research and practice, such as Participatory Design and Computer Supported Cooperative Work, starts from a perspective where collaboration is valued for both its politics and what it can deliver, for instance, supporting emancipation of workers from the capitalist production process (Ehn, 1989). These approaches stress the importance of collaborative design and production of technologies, places, and services with a hopeful speculation that designing collaboratively will increase the impact and use value of the designed things and the quality of life for the people using them, in what is called “design for future use” (Ehn, 2008). It thus become relevant to ask how these approaches position themselves with regard to the challenges posed by platform capitalism, associated with commodification and quantification of collaboration.

A possible direction might be placing attention on the commons (Ostrom, 1990; Hess and Ostrom, 2007) as collectively managed and shared resources, or the common (Hardt and Negri, 2009; Dardot and Laval, 2014) as the ensemble of the material and symbolic resources tying together human beings. These concepts may be indeed central for the positioning of co-design and participatory design in the age of platform capitalism, especially for connecting with the original emancipatory intent of these design and research practices (Teli et al., 2017).

Another direction may be the relationship that exists between the subjects involved in co-designing, and the object of the action. When this relationship manifests itself as structuring social relations, these relations can be referred to as a kind of care (Light and Akama, 2014). With this perspective, highly networked economic relations could leave behind the misleading narratives on the “sharing economy” promoted by platform capitalism, and engage in structuring a caring economy, oriented toward nurturing respectful and ever-transforming collaboration (Mol, Moser and Pols, 2010).

The tension between commodification of collaboration and collaboration as productive considered as a basis for design and production, offers fertile ground to scholars, practitioners, and activists interested in co-designing practices of care for the common/s on different aspects. Possible directions may include:
The tension between commodification of collaboration and collaboration as productive in itself, considered as a basis for design and production, offers fertile ground to scholars, practitioners, and activists interested in co-designing practices of care for the common/s on different aspects.

What can I contribute?
What role might co-design play in establishing new and different commons-based forms of economic activities and systems?
•         Theoretical relations between co-design and commons-based peer production
•         Empirical cases of co-design in the context of commons-based peer production
How does the collaborative character of co-design interrelate with the commodification of digital social relations?
•         Critical analysis of co-design in the context of platform capitalism
•         Co-design and commons-based peer production as forms of activism
How might co-design be interrogated, redefined, and evaluated as a means to encourage care and social collaboration?
•         Theoretical elaboration of criteria for evaluation of co-design activities promoting social collaboration
•         Empirical discussions of evaluation of co-design activities promoting social collaboration

Why contribute to Co-Design?
•         Your article will be published in a widely read and cited journal which is part of the design society giving you exposure across all our members.
•         Your research will be validated by a robust single-blind peer review process
•         You can share you research using our open access options
•         You can follow the impact of your research using My Authored Works

Dates for your diary
22nd December 2017: Submissions deadline for intentions to contribute
28th February 2018: Notification of relevance sent to authors
31st May 2018: submission of full papers
7th September 2018: post-review notification of accept / reject / revisions to authors
7th December 2018: Deadline for submission of revised papers
8th February 2019: Final selected papers to production
September 2019: Publication of the Special Issue
Instructions for authors
Potential contributors should send an intention to contribute (deadline 22nd December 2017) of 1000 – 1500  words that outlines the content of the paper and a concise summary of the article’s research contributions. This document should also make it clear how the authors’ intended submission relates to the overall scope and specific themes and issues of this special issue. The document should be sent by email to<> in pdf format.

The special issue editorial team will provide a short review of the intention to contribute and will notify authors whether their work is in scope of the special issue call (notifications by 28th February 2018). Submissions within scope and with a potentially strong research contribution will be invited to submit a full paper.
Submissions of full papers (for invited authors)
Those authors who proceed past the intention to contribute phase will be invited to submit a full paper (maximum 7000 words including tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes) that will be subjected to the normal double-blind peer review process of the CoDesign journal. Manuscripts should be prepared according to guidelines which can be found on the journal website ( – link “Instructions for Authors”). The deadline for full paper submissions is 31st May 2018.

All full paper submissions should be made online at the CoDesign Manuscript Central site at: Authors should select submission to Special Issue “Repositioning Co-Design in the age of platform capitalism: from sharing to caring” when uploading manuscripts.
New users will need to create an account. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the same website. All published articles will undergo rigorous peer review, based on initial guest editors screening and anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees.
Potential authors should contact the guest editors at<>  with any questions about the Special Issue.
For further Information about CoDesign go to:

Dardot, Pierre, and Christian Laval. 2014. Commun: Essai sur la révolution au XXIe siècle. La Decouverte.
Dijck, José van. 2013. The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. Oxford University Press.
Ehn, Pelle. 1989. Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts. Arbetslivscentrum.
———. 2008. ‘Participation in Design Things’. In Proceedings of the Tenth Anniversary Conference on Participatory Design 2008, 92–101. PDC ’08. Indianapolis, IN, USA: Indiana University.
Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2009. Commonwealth. 1 edition. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press.
Hess, Charlotte, and Elinor Ostrom, eds. 2007. Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice. 1 edition. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.
Light, Ann, and Yoko Akama. 2014. ‘Structuring Future Social Relations: The Politics of Care in Participatory Practice’. In Proceedings of the 13th Participatory Design Conference: Research Papers – Volume 1, 151–160. PDC ’14. New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/2661435.2661438.
Mol, Annemarie, Ingunn Moser, and Jeannette Pols. 2015. Care in Practice: On Tinkering in Clinics, Homes and Farms. Bielefeld: Transcript Publishers.
Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.
Srnicek, Nick. 2016. Platform Capitalism. John Wiley & Sons.
Teli, Maurizio, Angela Di Fiore, and Vincenzo D’Andrea. 2017. ‘Computing and the Common: A Case of Participatory Design with Think Tanks’. CoDesign 13 (2): 83–95. doi:10.1080/15710882.2017.1309439.
Editorial information
•         Guest Editor: Gabriela Avram, University of Limerick
•         Guest Editor: Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, Queensland University of Technology
•         Guest Editor: Stefano De Paoli, Abertay University
•         Guest Editor: Ann Light, University of Sussex
•         Guest Editor: Peter Lyle, Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
•         Guest Editor: Maurizio Teli, Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute

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