Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections

Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections

Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections

Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections

Synopsis

This work explains how social psychology, sociology and anthropology can provide techniques for investigating the relationship between people and design.

Excerpt

The main objective of this project is to identify and define possible directions for interdisciplinary work connecting design and the social sciences regarding the conception, production and use of objects, environments and communications. the conference held in Edmonton was intended to critically discuss both existing realities and the benefits that a more interdisciplinary action could bring to research, practice and education, challenging, at the same time, existing notions of disciplinary competence.

The design discipline has developed in recent years from an exclusive concentration on the design of objects, environments and communications toward an expansion of its field to include the design of processes, services, structures and systems, and to the creation and promotion of ideas and principles; in sum, to a series of activities that could be defined as the design of the contexts within which traditional design operates. These contexts involve the critical consideration of social, cultural, economic, technical and environmental concerns, and map out a broad terrain for designing and manufacturing. the need for people prepared to work at this level is growing every day, as hitherto hidden dimensions of the economy-such as the cost of health care and illiteracy-and the challenges brought by international markets, pose heavy demands on creativity and efficiency to any human group.

Product development is now far from being the province of the individual craftsman, manager or manufacturer: the conception, production, distribution and use of products have become complex parts of corporate strategies, and include extensive research based on marketing, but also on anthropology, psychology and sociology. the same could be said of instructional and educational materials: this is not any longer the terrain of teachers specialized in specific content areas. the development of teaching aids calls for knowledge in cognitive, developmental and perceptual psychology, as well as design-specific knowledge of media, production and components; the evaluation of the effectiveness of any design product or idea makes use of knowledge developed within a variety of fields. Manufacturers such as Philips, and institutions such as the International Standards Organization (ISO) have for over twenty years gathered together

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