Twelve potluck principles for social design

Nold, Christian; Kaszynska, Patrycja; Bailey, Jocelyn and Kimbell, Lucy (2022). Twelve potluck principles for social design. Discern: International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 3(1) pp. 31–43.



The term ‘social design’ is used in a variety of contexts, but—or maybe because of this—it is far from clear what it means. The starting point for this paper is that there is a need for stronger and more critical community discourse to understand and clarify what social design is and what it does. By analyzing key texts, the paper identifies commonalities, disagreements and unresolved questions in relation to social design. Drawing on the example of citizen science, the paper argues for a need to develop principles for social design for further inquiry and discipline-building for social design. The paper offers twelve principles that focus on the notion of the social in social design, its methods and practices and its normative intent, as well as its critical reflexivity. These principles are intended as a ‘potluck’ boundary object to kickstart a stronger social design community. The paper reports feedback from two workshops where these principles were discussed and tested with design academics suggesting how the principles can be applied.

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