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RSD11: Confronting legacies of oppression

Confronting legacies of oppression in systemic design

Systemic design is often complicit in the reproduction of oppression, contributing to structural inequities being designed into our systems. A growing group of scholars and practitioners are confronting legacies of oppression in this domain, such as through explorations into decolonizing systems thinking (Goodchild, 2021), abolitionist design (Fathallah & Lewis, 2021), and design justice (Costanza-Chock, 2020). To grapple with the systemic nature of oppression, a greater commitment to equity, self-determination and liberation in, through and beyond systemic design is needed.

This focus generated contributions exploring the following questions and related points of inquiry:

  • How is oppression enacted in systemic design theory and/or practice?
  • What relevant thinking and doing related to systemic design can aid in confronting the systemic nature of oppression and inform a more equitable approach?
  • What does a liberatory approach to systemic design mean in practice?
  • What is needed for systemic design to meaningfully reduce structural inequalities in the outcomes of our social systems?

Thanks to those who have proposed and developed the focuses: Christopher Daniel, Gareth Owen Lloyd, Dulmini Perera, Sally Sutherland, Ben Sweeting, James Tooze, Jeffrey P. Turko, and Josina Vink.

Indicative references

  1. Goodchild, M. (2021). Relational systems thinking: That’s how change is going to come, from our Earth mother. Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change, 1(1), 75-103.
  2. Costanza-Chock, S. (2020). Design justice: Community-led practices to build the worlds we need. MIT Press.
  3. Fathallah, S. and Lewis, A. D. S. (2021). Abolish the cop inside your (designer’s) head. Design Museum Magazine, (018). 
  4. Jacobs, J. and Carey, H. (2021). Designing against oppression: A conceptual framework for an anti-oppressive design praxis. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) 2021 Symposium. 

Confronting legacies of oppression