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Exposing the Emotional Dynamics of Making Tensions Tangible in Systemic Design

Format: Papers, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Elin Engström, Matilda Legeby, Pia Mcaleenan, Hanna Andersson, Karin Petrusson, Manuela Aguirre, and Josina Vink

Increasingly in systemic design there is an emphasis on the value of visualizing, materializing and enacting tensions. However, there has to date not been much focus on what happens when these tensions are exposed within systemic design processes. The emotional aspects of responding to tensions play a particularly central role in guiding people’s resulting actions but are seldom discussed in the systemic design discourse. Fear is positioned as a key emotion driving tensions and a conceptual framework (the four Fs) is proposed to unpack the consequences to fear. Ignoring emotions such as fear in change processes may perpetuate a false narrative about emotional dynamics and increases the risk of harmful, unintended consequences. This paper shares stories and reflections from Förnyelselabbet’s work that uses designerly approaches to facilitate meaningful change within complex societal challenges in Sweden, particularly in relation to newly arrived minors. These stories situated in the context of the exploratory lab and co-design work reveal the emotional dynamics unfold when tensions are exposed and help raise an emotional literacy in systemic design practice.

Keywords: materializing systems; enacting tensions; feeling fear; co-designing for social change

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Citation Data

Author(s): Elin Engström, Matilda Legeby, Pia Mcaleenan, Josina Vink and Manuela Aguirre Ulloa
Title: Exposing the Emotional Dynamics of Making Tensions Tangible in Systemic Design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
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First published: 3 September 2021
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