Is co-production a ‘good’ concept? Three responses - ScienceDirect

Congratulations to UI Director Professor Beth Perry and her colleagues Catherine Durose and Liz Richardson on the new publication of a new open access paper in Science Direct.


Co-production refers to a reciprocal process of exchange between diverse stakeholders, in order to generate outcomes that are only possible because of this deliberate intersection of difference. Whilst the concept of co-production appeals within and for futures studies, foresight and anticipatory politics, its conceptual messiness has been widely critiqued. Drawing upon an integrative literature review of co-production and concept formation in the social sciences, the authors identify three approaches that scholars of co-production have sought to mobilise in order to address this critique. Each approach offers a different perspective on what makes a ‘good’ social scientific concept: clarification, elucidation and provocation. Their analysis illuminates the value of holding different approaches to conceptualisation in tension, as a means of developing a richer and more contingent understanding of co-production to future studies’ debates. In doing so, they  open up new conceptual imaginaries for co-production and its prefigurative value within futures studies, offering more pluralistic ways of knowing in a context of radical uncertainty. 


  • Co-production’s value to future studies depends on its conceptual ‘goodness’.
  • There are different approaches to assessing if co-production is a ‘good’ concept.
  • We identify three distinct approaches: clarification, elucidation and provocation.
  • Each differs in assessing the conceptual meaning, purpose and value of co-production
  • We show there is value in more pluralistic ways of conceptualising co-production.

Access the paper. 

This is part of the Co-producing Urbanisms theme. 

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