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Title: Exploring social design in a development context : the case of a handcraft pottery community in Cambodia
Author: Kang, Lina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 1006
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis argues for an alternative methodology in social design to counter existing approaches to development work. It is based on a field study conducted in a handcraft pottery community in Cambodia over twenty months. From a cross-disciplinary perspective that combines design culture, development studies and sociology, the thesis discusses the ways in which an innovative approach to social design can be developed, practised and analysed. The thesis, informed by the actor-network theory (ANT), unfolds the problematic situation by revealing that in-kind donations and external support has caused a sense of dependency within the local community. To move away from the system of technocracy and diffidence and towards creative knowledge generation and ongoing participation, the Social Design Thinking Workshops (SDTWs), as part of the field study, were conducted with ten Khmer potters. Action research, participant observation, semistructured interviews and visual ethnography were employed to understand the situation, create designs for ceramic production, expand the knowledge beyond technicality and reflect on the overall process of the SDTWs. A mutual relationship and productive participation became possible by establishing an ontological and epistemological stance that treated the people as research participants with indigenous insights and capabilities. As a result, this thesis suggests three key implications for this social design thinking approach in the Cambodian context. Firstly, by exploring the relationship between actors surrounding the situation, researchers would be able to problematise and engage with social issues from an unconventional perspective. Social design not only transcends its dominant association with social responsibility, but it also becomes able to catalyse and rearrange the social configuration within the situation. Secondly, by unlocking and eliciting the tacit knowledge of the participants, the community would be better equipped for an increased economic competitiveness and independence. Finally, by practising a programmatic, iterative approach to social design, rather than seeing it as a straightforward problem-solving project, the outcomes and impact of the practice can continuously be tested, reflected, adapted and evolved. In this process, social designers are expected to act as a facilitator, educator and imaginative storyteller that can catalyse the social interactions within the problematic situation. While designerly approaches are increasingly employed in a development context, relatively few studies have been conducted on these types of practices. Overall, this thesis offers an innovative approach to social design that can be useful for researchers and practitioners in the development context.
Supervisor: Reeve, Steve Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available