Monash University
20170410-Michna-Thesis.pdf (11.22 MB)

Service Directory Map as Forum

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posted on 2017-04-10, 04:08 authored by Frederick Douglas Michna
Purpose: To guide the construction of service directory maps as a democratic forum. A forum is place of ‘citizen participation’ and the map serves the purpose of ‘distributive justice’ in that democratic forum.

Design/Methodology/Approach: I discuss and illustrate the concept through interviews with parents using an online service directory map. These five interviews take place with parents of children with autism who think aloud while using the ‘herri’ service directory map. In my qualitative analysis I create a descriptive vignette of the interactions and series of cognitive schemata that describe this service system. I use these to dicuss the concepts of ‘citizen participation’ and ‘distributive justice’ that might create s democratic forum.

Findings: For a service directory as forum at least these two concepts must be considered.

Arnsteins’ ladder is a theoretical framework for citizen participation (Arnstein 1969). Citizen participation may be facillitated at different levels on the ladder. The service directory may be used to simply direct people to services,
or to enhance their wayfinding cognitive skills, or to provide transparency and information on important characteristics of the service. This information may be used to facillitate the description of where services may be needed, and plan through direct connection to the community. It may also highlight unacceptable behaviours in service providers that the community may attempt to regulate. I find these functions in the interviews data and tensions with their reality.

Rawls’ system of distributive justice is a framework for the second aspect of the forum (Rawls 1971). A forum is an institution of distributive justice which, according to this system has constitutional, legislative, and enactment phases. The designers and developers of a service directory map must maintain a veil of ignorance in the first two
phases so that their personal interest does not interfere
with distributive justice. I find this system valuable to the construction of the service directory map and discuss the challenges of implementing a veil of ignorance with these parents.

Limitations/Implications: A democratic service directory map may be a valuable tool for social governance. It is limited by practical considerations of the people involved. Those parents interviewed are not representative of regions, or the entire culture. Furthermore, the study is preliminary to the development of service directory maps based on the principles that have been discovered here. Other interpretations of the forum may also be worthy of investigation.

Originality/Value: The research proposes a reinterpretation of the role of the service directory map. If implemented by community organisations in autism services, or health services or reapplyed to other service systems entirely it may improve the lives of those involved.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Frada Burstein

Additional supervisor 1

Julie Fisher

Additional supervisor 2

Eldar Hajilarov

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Information Technology (Monash University Caulfield)


Master of Information Technology

Degree Type



Faculty of Information Technology

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