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Title: Putting wicked problems in their place : interrogating the global through participatory art and infrastructuring
Authors: Mellor, Alexia
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In the context of growing concern for how to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and other challenge-led approaches, public engagement is deemed essential to addressing the complexity and uncertainty that these global issues present. However, this requires a consideration of how to best engage individuals, and how to make these issues relevant within local contexts. This research, therefore, interrogates how participatory artistic practice might serve to deconstruct global metanarratives of ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel and Webber, 1973) such as climate change to create a critical reflective space to examine the relevance of these issues within local contexts. To do this, this thesis adopts a practice-led approach, using three participatory works that address three central themes related to global metanarratives: place, situated:environments and participation. The research begins by establishing a framework for understanding metanarratives as spatially experienced within situated contexts. This framework draws together Massey’s (1991) definition of place as socially-constructed and the product of flows, with Soja’s Thirdspace (1996) in an effort to challenge the local-global binary and reveal the social imaginaries and situated knowledges that inform interpretations of place. Using Bourdieu’s habitus as the personal enactment of these imaginaries, the research argues for the need to create a context for individuals to discover their own narratives and entanglements in issues of concern, transforming from participants into active citizens. This requires a shift in how we think about participation, moving from project-based approaches to establishing long-term contexts, and recognising the variable roles that artists and participants play. This research, therefore, makes two principal contributions to the field: by applying an infrastructuring-inspired methodology drawn from Scandinavian traditions of Participatory Design, and through developing a unique toolset, it seeks to disrupt binary understandings of participatory art discourse by creating a context for ongoing participation and legacy of the works; secondly, on this basis, creating a useful platform to support the transformation from participant to active citizen. Taken together, these contributions suggest pathways towards engendering individuals and communities to better approach the wicked problem of climate change.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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