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Title: Youth in Lebanon : using collaborative and interdisciplinary communication design methods to improve social integration in post-conflict societies
Author: Choukeir Hojeily, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 5421
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2015
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In 1995, the World Summit for Social Development identified social integration as one of the three overriding objectives for social and economic development. This priority arose following a century that ended with the collapse of many states and the sharpening of strife around the world. Social integration was seen as a pathway to reinforcing common identities, supporting cooperation and lessening the likelihood of violence and conflict. For the past 20 years, governmental, academic and third sector organisations – with the United Nations at the forefront – sought to improve social integration. However their methods and interventions have commonly been restricted to policymaking and dialogue practices. Peacebuilding and reconciliation are affected by communication within and amongst different groups. Nonetheless, the potential for communication design to contribute towards social integration remains unexplored. This practice-led communication design research focuses on 18 to 30 year old youth in Lebanon – an extreme case of a politically, religiously, geographically, culturally and linguistically segregated post-conflict generation. The research adopts an innovative, interdisciplinary(1.) and collaborative(2.) approach, to explore the contribution of communication design methods towards social integration interventions. The interdisciplinary and collaborative case study process spans seven stages of practice: Discover, Delve, Define, Develop, Deliver, Determine Impact and Diverge. I developed this process with Darren Raven in 2010, and have been testing and refining it over the past five years through the socially-focused design projects of BA Design for Graphic Communication students and staff at the London College of Communication. This process builds on the Design Council’s Double Diamond design process by incorporating stages from the National Social Marketing Centre’s process. Through these stages, the research developed several innovative communication design methods: Explorations, a cultural probes toolkit exploring young people’s local context; Road Trip, an autoethnographic journey preparing the researcher; Connections, an effective method for recruiting stakeholders; Expressions Corner, a confidential diary room for understanding young people’s experiences, attitudes and behaviours; Imagination Studio, a collaborative workshop series for developing social integration interventions; Imagination Market, an efficient platform for piloting these interventions; and a Social Impact Framework; to evaluate the impact of the interventions and research. These methods enhanced candid input from young people, reduced ethical tensions, and improved their engagement with the research. The methods also involved youth and wider stakeholders in understanding and reframing the problem, invited them to generate and deliver solutions, strengthened their sense of ownership and therefore the sustainability of the research outputs, and finally, built their capabilities throughout the process. The social integration interventions developed and piloted through the case-study research ranged from a citizen journalism platform reducing media bias, to a youth-led internal tourism service encouraging geographic mobility. The evaluation of the 24-hour pilot interventions demonstrated a positive shift in young people’s willingness to integrate. The social impact and social value assessment suggests that effective social integration interventions – such as the ones developed and piloted in the case study research – have higher chances of delivering positive social and economic outcomes for the communities involved. This practice-led research presents a number of contributions, the most significant of which is a methodology, process and set of methods highly transferable across social integration challenges worldwide. The research also provides social integration theory and practice with a clear demonstration of the value and potential of communication design to advance interventions from replication to innovation. To communication design theory and practice, the research makes the case for the value of interdisciplinary and collaborative principles in enhancing rigour and social impact. Finally, to the Lebanese context, the research provides in-depth qualitative insights on social group dynamics, segments, and behaviours, which act as an evidence-base to underpin future local interventions. Beyond this thesis, the knowledge gained from this research will be disseminated to the various relevant communities of practice – including researchers, designers, policy makers, and community development workers – in the form of Creative Commons licensed design guidelines, as well as presentations, capacity building workshops, and academic publications. The dissemination of knowledge hopes to inspire and enable these communities to adopt, adapt and build on communication design methods when addressing social segregation challenges within their varying contexts. Notes in the text: (1.) Drawing on disciplines such as social, political, behavioural, and psychological sciences. (2.) Engaging multiple stakeholders including young people, civil society, institutions, topic experts and policy-makers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Visual Communication