FAccT 2023
Conference paper

Towards Labor Transparency in Situated Computational Systems Impact Research

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Researchers seeking to examine and prevent technology-mediated harms have emphasized the importance of directly engaging with community stakeholders and, as such, have expressed increasing interest in participatory approaches to algorithmic systems research. However, recent trends towards the commodification of inclusion pose significant challenges to established participatory practices. In this paper we extend existing critical participatory design scholarship to specifically highlight the exploitative potential of labor relationships between participatory researchers and participants. Drawing on a reflexive approach to our own experiences conducting research on emerging technologies at a large technology company, we empirically illustrate how and when these relationships threaten to appropriate and alienate participant labor. We argue that a labor-conscious approach to participatory computational systems research is critical for countering the commodification of inclusion and invite fellow researchers to more actively investigate such dynamics. To this end, we provide (1) a framework for documenting divisions of labor within participatory research, design, and data practices, and (2) a series of short provocations that help locate and inventory sites of extraction within participatory engagements.