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Design Activism: A Subversion of Creative Industries For Socially Engaged Participation?
In recent years, also due to the aggravated socio-political situation, the field of critical interventions in public space has been growing. They appear under different names - e.g. urban guerrillas, affectivism, artivism, design activism - and represent a cross-section of diverse creative expressions/practices with a desire for social change. What they all have in common is that they intertwine interdisciplinary knowledge/tools - artistic, media, communication, design - but in different proportions and with different emphases.
This paper deals with design activism (DA), its specificity and the potentials for social change. The decision for Da is based on two reasons: design is one of the most important pillars of creative industries and an important part of all socially engaged public interventions. A quick glance at the list of design-related disciplines reveals that design has penetrated all aspects of our materialized/virtual worlds. However, DA has only become a more serious topic of academic research in recent years (Fuad-Luke, Markussen, Thorpe, Raunig). DA is defined as activism in which design plays central role and is based on design thinking/imagination and practice. These are used to create counter-narratives, with the aim of achieving positive social, environmental and economic change, intertwining an array of disciplines: art, sociology, communication, media, urbanism, etc.
The paper seeks to shed light on what DA is, how it works and whether it can be a form of relevant activism - and thus tests whether within creative industries that are the flagship of neoliberal capitalism, is hidden potential for its subversion.