The Way Design Knowledge Is Situated Socially and Historically: Transformation of National Design Organizations in Britain, France and China since 1970s
To provide an survey of the way design knowledge has been situated socially by the transformation of design organizations and historically by the formation of traditional ideas such as ‘good design’ and ‘good taste’ in France and Britain before 1970s.
To analyze comparatively these different ways of situating reflected in the transformation of national design organizations in France, Britain and China after 1970s relating to their national identities.
To establish fundamental frameworks for organized design activities to situate design knowledge socially and historically in different cultures, and to propose the candidate’s term ‘cultural agravic’ to theorize this way of situating.
If the way design knowledge is situated historically and socially becomes essential in design knowledge research, then what aspect of this investigation should be the focus of attention in the times of knowledge economy? This research project takes the design organization as the focus of investigation since the industrialization created for the modern world a set of relationships, which is absorbed by organizations as environmental agencies and social contexts. Located in this field, the transformation of design organizations would be mainly taken into account, for it is the key context in which the design is understand publicly. To pursue the process that helps make the understanding public, the research project will be concentrated on the national design organizations of three countries: UK, France and China. These three interesting phenomena construct a complex but almost complete context to investigate how design knowledge is situated socially and historically, for they symbolize different levels of industrialization and different social realities.
To expose the processes of the way design knowledge is situated with the activities of design organizations, what are the appropriate research methods? The candidate believes that historical method whereby to examine the historical situating, and the comparative method whereby to compare the social situating, are key methods to achieve this. The research will be conducted at both the macro and the micro levels. That is to say, the candidate will consider large-scale phenomena, such as the role of national identities and cultural politics in explaining the transformationin the context of modernization, as well as small-scale phenomena, such as specific design organizations, especially case studies.
If design organizations are chosen as the subject of this historical comparative investigation, it has its goal to contribute to the building of a philosophical and methodological basis for understanding design publicly as proposed the British design historian Clive Dilnot. Located in the tradition of design research of the University of Brighton, modernization theories, postmodernism and complexity theory will be approached in order to develop the theoretical ideas of the leading design historian Professor Jonathan Woodham. The candidate will try to draw from these theoretical discussions his own notion that will serve as an explanative proposition for theorizing the situating of design knowledge historically and socially.