Social Innovation and New Industrial Contexts: Can Designers "Industrialize" Socially Responsible Solutions?

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Many years ago Viktor Papanek urgently called for a radical revision of the design profession based on an exploration of new territories outside the market oriented logic. For many years Papanek's call was ignored, but the urgency of those theme is re-emerging, together with the need to overcome Papanek's approach, in view of the changed context in which industrial companies are now operating. While industrial production is globalising, local needs are becoming more and more complex, generating demand patterns and opportunities that are often ignored in the mainstream market-oriented perspective. Papanek's proposal was revived a few years ago at the Common Ground conference. Starting from this event, other contributions were proposed that revised the relationship between designers and their main clients and found new methodological approaches. This debate represents the theoretical and logical framework for this paper. An investigation is proposed beyond the traditional links between design and industry, emphasising new insights into the changes in the social role of industrial production. Furthermore, the paper proposes a methodological exploration to help designers focus on new actors and new perspectives in search for possible convergences between the logic of socially responsible design and the contribution of the industrial culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

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  • Design for social responsibility, System design
  • new industrial context
  • social innovation


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