Participatory design research for urban community building in China
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- Institutt for design 
This thesis aims to provide direct input for the deliverables required for Task 1.1 of the TRANS-URBAN-EU-CHINA project. This thesis means to create a knowledge base about how to experiment with context-specific and citizen centered studies and participatory design (PD) approaches, and how to map citizens' needs through insights from theories of social practice and user-centered design in China. With the research questions of 1) what the current status of PD development related to fields that contribute to community building in China is; 2) What the possible challenges and issues to practice PD in the Chinese context, and the possible way to coping are; and 3) What information can be concluded and utilized in future studies, focusing on both what works well, and new insights about what could work in the context that so far are seen as potentially challenging. Starting with reviewing previous literature relevant to this topic, I identify the challenges of conducting PD research in the Chinese context, including communication, knowledge-transfer, balanced decision-making regime with distinguishing of scale of participation. I also find that PD practices need more focus on ethnographic methods and reward system in the Chinese context. Following the findings of literature review, this thesis is developed further with interviews of six experts who have performed relevant fieldworks in China. Based on the interviews, I conclude that, when conducting research and PD, practitioners and researchers need to cultivate and maintain interpersonal relationships and trust with local participants, and build up effective communication channels and mechanisms for the local Chinese context. This thesis proposed recommendations of a PD framework and tools for PD activities with explained scenarios, indicate different possibilities of improving community-based contextual PD application, and emphasizes the research of PD theories and practice need more focus for the Chinese context in future.