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Must-Read Design Anthropology Articles

Design anthropology is a form of applied anthropology that grew out of cultural anthropology.  It involves the collaboration between anthropologists, designers, and often other stakeholders. It is a young practice only stretching back to the 1980s. However, despite its relatively short history, it is incredibly forward-looking. But because it is so young, new practitioners often are left looking for the best resources. In a previous article, I referenced some must-read design anthropology books. In this article, we will look at some design anthropology articles that I found very helpful when first getting into the discipline. 

Design Anthropology & Related Articles

Renewing Our Practice: Preparing the next generation of practitioners

Susan Squires & Alexandra Mack

Abstract: A key aspect of renewal is disciplinary renewal though the addition of new practitioners, who can bring revitalization to our practice. To successfully land their first job, today’s new practitioners need practical, relevant basic skills and knowledge, which they can acquire through a range of training programs. In this paper, we reflect upon the significant methodological, interpretive, ethical implications of such training programs for ethnographic praxis in industry. How they evolve and change the work, how new knowledge is created in the field and what that may mean for the future renewal of our practice begins with how they are trained.

October 2012 EPIC Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference

DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-8918.2012.00030.x

 

Design Anthropology

Christina Wasson

Introduction: What will the world look like when half the cars on the road are autonomous vehicles, when the driver is a robot and the humans are passengers? How will the human drivers and the robot drivers communicate with each other? What will people do during their commute when their car drives itself? What groups of people will lose out in a world with autonomous vehicles (AVs), and who will benefit? These are all questions that design anthropologists are actively exploring, as they work for a variety of automotive companies and consulting firms

September 2016 General Anthropology

DOI: 10.1111/gena.12013

 

Participant observation, anthropology methodology and design anthropology research inquiry

Wendy Gunn & Louise Løgstrup

Abstract: Within the design studio, and across multiple field sites, the authors compare involvement of research tools and materials during collaborative processes of designing. Their aim is to trace temporal dimensions (shifts/ movements) of where and when learning takes place along different sites of practice. They do so by combining participant observation, anthropology methodology and design anthropology research inquiry, engaging with practice based explorations to understand if methods and methodologies, understood as being central to anthropological inquiry, can be taught to interaction design engineering students studying in an engineering faculty and engineers working in an energy company. They ask: how do you generate anthropological capacities with interaction design engineering students engaged in engineering design processes and employees of an energy company setting out to reframe their relation with the private end user? What kind of opportunities can engaging with collaborative processes of designing offer for both designing and anthropological research inquiry simultaneously?

September 2014 Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 13(4):428-442
DOI: 10.1177/1474022214543874

 

Design anthropology or anthropological design? Towards ‘Social Design’

Jonathan Ventura & Jo-Anne Bichard

Abstract: In this article we will outline the practice of design anthropology, and define the term ‘social design’ vis-à-vis current changes in the world of industrial designers. We will highlight the various popular terms for this rapidly-growing discipline, and outline a ‘how-to’ in relation to industrial designers’ work in the studio. We will conclude by presenting two case studies in which a different approach towards anthropology should be integrated into the practical work of designers. One case study will present design anthropology from a pedagogical point of view, while the other will present a design anthropology workshop. A design methodology leaflet is attached as an appendix to better introduce design anthropology to designers.

October 2016

DOI: 10.1080/21650349.2016.1246205

 

The Yin and Yang of Seduction and Production: Social Transitions of Ethnography Between Seductive Play and Productive Force in Industry

Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall

Abstract: “Design translates values into tangible experiences. What are your values?” This is a question that Dori Tunstall, Associate Professor of Design Anthropology at Swinburne University of Technology asks the students who take her courses in the Design Anthropology Program. Marking the boundaries between respectful knowing and making, design anthropology lives across and within design’s desire to serve as a positive force in the universe by drawing attention across evolving human values, the making of environments, objects, communications, and interactions that express those values, and the experiences that give interpretation to those values and their meanings. But design must learn to tread respectfully in order to avoid becoming another colonizing practice. In this presentation, Dori Tunstall explores the teaching of design anthropology as a hybrid praxis of (1) critical anthropological and design theory, (2) anthropological and participatory design research methods, and (3) design studio and social systems making. She outlines eight principles of design anthropology as a decolonized practice that seeks to be respectful of different ways of knowing and making. The showcasing of projects completed by students in her Transcultural Aesthetics and Contemporary Design course marks the limitations and possibilities of the discipline as a bridge between respectful knowing and making.

2012 SEGD Academic Summit

ISBN: 1940297206

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT DESIGN ANTHROPOLOGY

To find out more about the benefits of bringing anthropology and design together to solve the toughest problems in business, check these links out on design anthropologyusing contextual inquiry for design research and getting user experience (UX) adopted by leadership in a corporate environment.

 


Also published on Medium.

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