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Encountering design for development: An exploration of design value and ethics in practice

Andrawes, Ledia; (2021) Encountering design for development: An exploration of design value and ethics in practice. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In recent years, there has been a turn to design practices with the promise of more human-centred outcomes. However, the value of this shift remains understudied in social change settings such as D/development. This thesis explores the distinct value of design for D/development from the standpoints of the actors closely intertwined in its projects. The discussion is grounded in understanding little-d development as ‘human flourishing’ based on the self-determined life that one would like to live. Whereas big-D Development is conceptualised as the Eurocentric post-WWII system to transition Global South countries into modernist, capitalist economies. Following a period of ‘prolonged crisis’ relating to its top-down power, outside-in knowledge flows, rigid working cultures, and questionable impact – some scholars consider Development as a ‘grand design gone sour’. Actors operating within this system are facing a challenge of reinvention. Given this backdrop, there is growing adoption of design practices in the search for, and transition toward alternatives. The discussion regarding the value of design in this thesis is grounded in understanding the act of ‘designing’ as an ontological, collaborative and social process of cultural exploration. Such acts of designing are deeply in-tune with the struggles and aspirations of human experience; and can drive the transformation of things, beings and Being. Yet, there remains limited empirical evidence regarding how encountering design is of value to actors involved in complex social change processes. Drawing on an ethnography of projects in Ghana and Kenya, as well as interviews with citizens/users, implementers, funders and designers; I argue that acts of designing can build trust, integrate knowledge, sustain ownership, enhance relevance, affirm agency, reduce risks, reorient accountability, strengthen capability, and challenge power dynamics. This makes the value of design relevant in the search for, and transition toward alternatives. However, this contribution is contingent on the navigation of a variety of ethical dilemmas. As such, this thesis elucidates how design is encountered, what kind of value it offers actors, and what is required for this value to be realised in social change settings such as Development projects.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Encountering design for development: An exploration of design value and ethics in practice
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > UCL Institute for Global Prosperity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132031
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