This ethnographic case study focuses on the Latino immigrant community’s civic engagement in Participatory Budgeting in Chicago’s 49th Ward (PB49). The research focuses on how the PB49 process mediated participation, and how those modes of participation mediated learning in practice. The research questions are: 1) What was the nature of civic engagement of Latino immigrant participants in PB49? 2) What was the dialectic between the (designed) environment and civic engagement? 3) What was the nature of expansive learning in this context? and 4) What was the evolution of Latino immigrant participants’ identities of civic engagement in this case study?
The study uses a Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) design based research (DBR) interventionist framework, situating the designed environment and civic engagement in dialectical relation with one another. The analysis shows expansive learning taking place in the PB49 process as it evolved over three iterations, changing the collective civic engagement of participants and the bearing of participants’ practices on the development of the activity system. This study contributes methodological, conceptual, and policy insights on how to study, identify, and describe adult civic learning in democratic activity. This research aims to augment the literature on Learning Sciences, CHAT, Participatory Planning, and Deliberative Democracy.