I am beginning a study of industrial design practice which aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic development in poor nations. The practice of “Design for Social Wellbeing” (DSW) generally operates in three capacities:
1) Commercial product/service development for low-income markets through social enterprise;
2) Technical assistance and capacity building with local artisans or micro-enterprises;
3) Product, service and infrastructure development assistance for communities and organizations.
I'm interested in the way designer's "frame" their problems according to their individual perspectives, and how this affects their design process. In DSW, perspectives are often as contested as the development theories they are associated with. The aim of study is to devise practical methods for design focused on alleviating poverty by examining the design process itself, rather than external discourses of development economics, sociology of technology, or innovation studies. The research assumes that such discourses—while still important in understanding social design practices—exert a greater influence at the practical level of designing than has been previously recognized.
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