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Cultural Premises, Conscious Purposes, and Design: Conversing with the legacies of Gregory Bateson and Vern Carroll

Format: Workshops, RSD11, RSD11: Different stories in design (Bateson), Topic: Methods & Methodology, Topic: Socioecological Design, Topic: Sociotechnical Systems

Eve Pinsker

with panellists Tim Gasperak, Michael Lieber, Eve Pinsker, Fred Steier, Daniel Wolk

#NewMacy hybrid studio—dialogue 02 workshop

Analytically identifying “cultural premises” (which Carroll developed from Bateson’s “epistemological premises”) is a way of stating what goes without saying, the shared assumptions or ways of parsing the world and construing context that are socially learned, usually unconscious, embedded in stories as well as embodied in interaction, and shared in varying degrees in wider communities. This Studio shares cases from both ethnography and design practice to discuss the relationship between identifying cultural premises and dialogic explorations of ‘sense-making’ and, furthermore, whether incorporating cultural analysis in innovation research methods can serve the larger purpose of designing beneficial social interventions, bearing in mind Bateson’s warnings against narrow notions of conscious purpose.

KEYWORDS: pandemics, wicked challenges, second-order cybernetics, systemic change, ontological security, conversation, ontogenetic resilience, recursive feedback.

Cultural Premises session cases

Cultural Premises reference articles

#NewMacy ACT II Studios—Redefining Stability

At RSD11, six #NewMacy Studios created opportunities to engage with interdisciplinary approaches to systemic design through conversations for action.


Pille Bunnell, Carlos Castellanos, Damian Chapman, Kate Doyle, Xiao Zoe Fang, Tim Gasperak, Mikal Giancola, Michael Lieber, TJ McLeish, Paul Pangaro, Eve Pinsker, Larry Richards, Eryk Salvaggio, Fred Steier, Mark Sullivan, Claudia Westermann, and Daniel Wolk

Bateson series

dialogue 01

dialogue 02





Citation Data

Author(s): Eve Pinsker
Year: 2022
Title: Cultural Premises, Conscious Purposes, and Design: Conversing with the legacies of Gregory Bateson and Vern Carroll
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 033
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 30 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404