Beyond Generalization: Research for the Very Particular

Olav Bertelsen, Susanne Bødker, Eva Eriksson, Eve Hoggan, and Jo Vermeulen.

ACM interactions, volume 26, issue 1, January–February 2019.
pp. 34–38.


In this article, we discuss HCI research that does not aim for universal or generic solutions, but rather focuses on addressing the particular challenges of particular people in particular situations or activities. We clarify what we mean by design and research for the very particular with examples from industry and academic research, highlight benefits and potential problems, discuss our suggestions, and conclude with a list of open questions for HCI researchers to consider.The discussion presented here is a result of a series of debates at the Center for Participatory IT at Aarhus University in Denmark, and we are indebted to many members of the center for their contributions. These debates addressed the ways in which HCI makes and uses generalizations, and the ways in which we can make better use of particular cases in our research.