Multiple Meanings of Child Participation in Architecture and Planning: Revisiting the Participation Ladder

Child Participation in Architecture and Planning


  • Ece Altınbaşak Haklıdır
  • Betül Orbey
  • Pınar Şahin



Design For Children, Levels Of Participation, Participation, Participatory Design


In literature, there are numerous studies on child participation and the levels of participation. However, the levels of child participation are categorized with different approaches among these studies. The aim of this article is to make a comparative analysis by examining the literature on the degrees of child participation and to systematize the concepts. Therefore, (i) bibliometric analysis and thematic mapping methods were conducted to identify various themes in academic studies in the field of child participation to understand the conceptual structure of the relevant literature that has changed over time; (ii) initiative reports suggesting different frameworks regarding participation degrees were also examined. These studies were categorized according to their definitions of participation degrees in a table. The table was structured from the lowest level of participation to the highest level, under three main typologies: non-participation, low-level participation, and true participation. It has been observed that all studies are concerned with ethical distinctions at the base level; consider lower levels of participation; and define methods that they consider as true participation. It was found that the levels and definitions in some studies were more inclusive and included several levels of participation simultaneously. However, the active participation of children in the processes and clarifying their actual roles are still vague issues. This study clarifies the boundaries of child participation in literature and serves as a basis for future studies investigating the degree of child participation in projects, which will help to uncover and develop the nature of practices involving child participation.