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The Systemic Value of Water at Home: Social norms, behaviours, and design

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Culture & Society, Topic: Sociotechnical Systems

Juan P. Velásquez, Åsa Ståhl, Mathilda Tham, Yanki Lee, and Tobias Svanberg

Access to clean and healthy water in households is a global concern. Although the value of water is recognised, human actions demonstrate the opposite. Uncontrolled consumption, increasing drylands, deterioration, and pollution of water sources are some manifestations of the human water footprint. These actions evidence a paradox of value, a discrepancy between the intention and the action of water care. To this extent, and to decipher this paradox, this research project was conducted through design where the systemic value of water was studied in the context of Swedish households. The central question was to identify what are those values, mindsets, norms, behaviours, and lifestyles associated with the use of freshwater in households. In addressing this question, theories such as social norms, behaviour, and systems, as well as local, regional, and global projects, were reviewed, and the behaviour was mapped with the help of open surveys, as well as with stakeholders involving a technical expert from government, design teachers and industry-connected designers with the intention of revealing the systemic value of water. As a result, two areas of the system emerged that are useful for guiding design efforts to reduce the intention-action gap. The first area focuses on mapping norms and behaviours with respect to value preferences and expectations. These norms and behaviours were organised into levels of product and service design and systemic, organisational, and social design. The second area identified twenty behavioural components that were grouped into four factors related to the functioning of motivation, education, information, and social relations that increase the water value gap.

KEYWORDS: water value, social norms, behaviour, systemic design

RSD: Culture & Society, Socio-technical Systems 

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Citation Data

Author(s): Juan P. Velásquez, Åsa Ståhl, Mathilda Tham, Yanki Lee, and Tobias Svanberg
Year: 2023
Title: The Systemic Value of Water at Home: Social norms, behaviours, and design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/systemic-value-of-water
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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