The ripple effects of social deisgn: a model to support new cultures of evaluation in design research

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Policymakers and the public sector increasingly turn to social design to mitigate the urgent challenges of the welfare state. With public sector collaboration and funding follow a requirement to measure and evaluate the change effect and the impact of social design practices. Typically this requirement is premised on evidence-based ideals fitting well with neoliberal agendas and new public management. However, in this paper we argue that there is a need for developing an evaluation culture to supplement this predominant model. The evidence-based model is primarily concerned with design outcomes, while neglecting how social value may manifest itself as what we call ripple effects from the ‘fuzzy front end’ to the implementation and evaluation of a given design project. Using a social design case – a game-based intervention designed for family visits in maximum-security prisons – we identify a range of ripple effects leading to notably three types of values: social value for the benefit of the people we designed for and with; demand value, which refers to the value that an organization/client gains from implementing a design artifact or service, and research value, i.e. improving the research study design and direction through insights. To account for the ripple effects of social design, we shall elaborate and advance Sanders & Stappers’ (2008) influential design model.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Research for Change
EditorsPaul Rodgers
Place of PublicationLancaster
PublisherLancaster University
Publication dateDec 2019
ISBN (Print)978-86220-369-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
EventDesign Research for Change Symposium - Design Museum London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 11. Dec 201912. Dec 2019


ConferenceDesign Research for Change Symposium
LocationDesign Museum London
CountryUnited Kingdom

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