Designerly Approaches to Shaping Social Structures

Format: Papers, RSD8, Topic: Policy & Governance

Authors: Josina Vink, Kaarina Wetter-Edman, and Kaisa Koskela-Huotari

With growing interest in systemic design, there is a demand for designerly approaches that can aid practitioners in catalysing intentional social systems change. As social structures have been recognized as a critical leverage point for systems change, this paper conducts an exploratory analysis of how designerly approaches can be developed to intentionally shape social structures. By combining theory and “research through design” experiments, this paper presents a portfolio of experimental designerly approaches for shaping social structures and identifies four key design principles to guide systemic design practitioners in doing this work. This research contributes to the open, pluralistic and evolving methodology of systemic design by showing alternatives to system mapping that can help practitioners address the invisible structure of systems and re-entangle themselves in the systems they seek to change.

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2019
Title: Designerly Approaches to Shaping Social Structures
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2019
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The Scholars Spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Verified by MonsterInsights