Imaginative labour and relationships of care: co-designing prototypes with vulnerable communities

Jen Southern, Rebecca Ellis, Maria Angela Felicita Cristina Ferrario, Ruth McNally, Rod J Dillon, William Simm, Jon Whittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Science-fiction prototyping is often used to explore the social implications of science and technology and to provide inspiration for innovation. The future that is being imagined however often exhibits a form of techno-optimism. This paper critiques that optimism by describing the #Patchworks project in which science fiction prototypes were used to explore the social implications of who does the imagining. Through our vignette we explore how the promissory nature of science fiction prototyping folds back into the present to change current understandings of real life situations. We suggest that the power to imagine and invent futures is often not extended to vulnerable communities, nor does it take into account the differing authority and agency depending on who is telling and who feels able to tell stories. The collision between these different stories and backgrounds in #Patchworks, the co-design project informing this paper, has produced contradictions and negotiations between the speculative practice of ‘tinkering’ used by DIY hackers that act as ‘openings’, an academic focus on innovation and the ‘anchoring’ inherent in the need to produce practical prototypes that solve urgent problems.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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