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Ferris Wheel of Shifting Power Dynamics: Vocalizing experiences around privileges and societal tensions

Format: Workshops, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Bidya Mishra, Chirag Bansal, Kopal Gangrade, Praveen Nahar, and Sahil Thappa

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India

The tensions in the social system emerge when we are forced to understand our surroundings from a binary perspective rather than deep diving and empathising with individuals. Societal expectations pave the way for stereotypes and shear the strings of psychological and social well being.

Power dynamics

Privileges play a key role in a person’s visibility and how they are perceived in society. The understanding that no representation is in itself a threat to the underprivileged and pushes them into the reinforcing loop of deprivation is critical. Tensions can erupt in the events of extreme deprivation and loss of identities.

The perceived hierarchies in a social scenario are linked to power structures that have multiple pull factors. This causes a dynamic power shift in interrelationships within a system.

Tension in strings is caused by pull forces thus allowing them to stretch to their maximum limit. Systemic design in itself is a delicate balance of pull forces from multiple directions, just enough to stretch it to full potential. This dynamic balance is in itself a form of play, rich with permeable constraints of societal functioning.

Complexes of superiority and inferiority incite hierarchical perceptions. Prejudice and stereotypes build and break identities. The tension between societal conditioning and a free-thinking human mind defines an individual’s privileges or handicaps. This inequality in thought leads to one becoming either the oppressed or the oppressor.

Towards an inclusive environment

The tools and methods used in the workshop are based on the project findings used in addressing “Casual Discrimination”. The scenario under focus is the frequent use of disparagement humour among teenagers in social situations that affects them psychologically and brings about a drastic change in their self-image and confidence. The roles of stakeholders are often intertwined such that turning into a perpetrator becomes a survival strategy for the victims.

The purpose of this participatory workshop is to bring individuals together in an experience-sharing process and make them empathize with others to think towards an inclusive environment under various vulnerable situations.

  • This online workshop is designed to collect, deliberate and reflect critical insights from systemic design peers.
  • We also welcome feedback on tools and methods introduced.

Workshop format

120 minutes | online | maximum number of participants 25 | using Miro

Workshop Agenda: Power dynamics

PHASE 1 Initiation

  • Welcome
  • Introduction of the topic and authors
  • Participants fill up their basic details

PHASE 2 Sharing and Reflecting (30 min)

  • 15 min: Exploring privilege
    • Talking about Privilege, Introduction to the activity and basic instructions
    • Rating ourselves on the privilege meter
    • Privilege walk
    • Re-tuning the privilege meter
  • 15 min: Debriefing and Reflection
    • Sharing personal experiences
    • Conclusion and Debriefing

PHASE 3 Empathising and Co-creating (60 min)

  • Introduction to Group Activity
    • Splitting into Teams (5 teams of 5 participants each)
  • Briefing about Problem situation and stakeholders
  • Breakouts (25 minutes):
    • Mapping POVs of each stakeholder (Think, Does, Says etc)
    • Stakeholder: Bully, Victim, Onlooker, Teacher, Parent
    • Ideating solutions based on Earlier Insights and POVs
  • Team Presentations (5 mins for each team)

Presentation of our work – Insights & Outcomes

Open floor for discussion




    Citation Data

    Author(s): Bidya Mishra, Chirag Bansal, Kopal Gangrade, Praveen Nahar and Sahil Thappa
    Title: Ferris Wheel of Shifting Power Dynamics: Vocalizing experiences around privileges and societal tensions
    Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
    Article No.:
    Symposium Dates:
    First published: 10 September 2021
    Last update:
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