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The Other Side of Design: Tension manifolds and collective action

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Goran Matic and Ana Matic

Systemic issues feature dynamic complexity that challenges cognitive, contextual, spatial, and temporal perceptions within ‘social messes’ (Ackoff, 1974) and ‘super-wicked problem’ (Levin et al., 2012) environments. Systemic designers thus find themselves working with tensions endemic to paradoxes, breaks in scale, value (or goal) conflicts and heterogeneous contexts. These differences may yield opportunities for design exploration when considered as spaces of praxis. Tensions within such spaces often make collaboration and collective action challenging – yet can also be considered as a type of design medium. This paper proposes the concept of ‘tension manifolds’ – and explores the potential for enabling design within systemic issues, with the goal of reframing tensions as a type of design affordance that enables collaboration and collective action in multi-stakeholder environments.

Keywords: design, field theory, collaboration, collective action, tension manifolds

Posted September 2021

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Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.