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Affording Meaning: Design-Oriented Research from the Humanities and Social Sciences

Affording Meaning: Design-Oriented Research from the Humanities and Social Sciences,10.1162/desi.2010.26.1.3,Design Issues,Julka Almquist,Julia Lupton

Affording Meaning: Design-Oriented Research from the Humanities and Social Sciences   (Citations: 2)
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5 have argued persuasively that user studies ultimately construe the human subject of design as a predictable bundle of reflexes and impulses that can be torqued, tuned, and tweaked in order to do the bidding—and the buying—prescribed by a consumer- savvy cabal of designers, engineers, and marketers. The word "user" itself communicates the terrors of addiction as well as the triumphs of functional mastery. In a landscape of diminishing economic and natural resources, the vision of the user promoted by mainstream design research is in dire need of revision. Meanwhile, consumers themselves are striking back, not only in the form of the D.I.Y., fair labor, and green movements, but also by simply withdrawing, out of sheer economic necessity, from the relentless rhythms of getting and spending that dictate our modern "user" lifestyle. In this essay, we link the critique of the user (launched both within design studies and in the larger culture) to the specific methodological aim of bringing together methods from the social sciences—which have organized their vision of the user around the idea of affordances—and the humanities—which have by and large focused on the subjective, cultural, and ideological meanings of material things. Design research has no single definition. It is an interdisciplinary form of inquiry categorized in multiple ways, including: research with a focus on theory, practice, and/or produc- tion, 6 as design epistemology, design praxiology, and design phenom-
Journal: Design Issues , vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 3-14, 2010
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