Political debate as design process: A frame analysis

Umney, Darren; Lloyd, Peter and Potter, Stephen (2014). Political debate as design process: A frame analysis. In: Proceedings of DRS 2014: Design's Big Debates, Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.

URL: http://www.drs2014.org/en/presentations/212/


Using data from the historical record of a major nineteenth century infrastructure project, this paper shows how controversial national debates can be seen as processes of design. Central to the idea of political debate as design is the concept of framing, where different ways of understanding a developing artefact are played out through conflict and resolution. The paper begins by setting the governmental context of infrastructure development before undertaking a detailed textual analysis of a specific meeting to draw out elements of a design-like discourse. The meeting participants construct a sequence of frames through which they explore their problem and with which they refine a strategy for moving forward in the process. The paper concludes that viewing political debate as a process of design can shift emphasis away from it being considered a 'simple' decision- making to more complex ideas about how our common future is shaped.

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