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Designing Urban-Rural Interaction: an Ethnographic Case Study of Design Harvest
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Social design has come to the fore in the past decade in convergence with social innovation, social entrepreneurship and design thinking. Despite the momentum of social design, the complexities of social design projects are often oversimplified in final publications. This thesis is an evaluative study of a real-life social design project titled Design Harvest in Shanghai, China that aims to address the imbalanced urban-rural development in the Chinese context with a bottom- up social design approach. To unravel the potential complexities involved in the processes and develop a better understanding of the “bottom-up” design approach boasted by the project, I take an multi-sited ethnographic approach to investigating its on-going process. I conducted participant observations and over 30 formal and informal interviews on Chongming Island and in other field sites. By representing specific time, places, and people that are related to the Harvest project in one way or another and illuminating the complexities inherent in the collaborative and political processes, I contribute to a more nuanced and contextualised understanding of social design and social innovation. I put forward the following conclusions and suggestions for future work with social design and innovation in China. The development of social design project depends on the context it is situated within, which itself keeps evolving. Developing a strong reflective practice while being attentive to the specific socio-cultural context, the different interests and concerns of multiple stakeholders as well as the potential changes at various levels may help anticipate the future and manage the uncertainty involved in the process. Working with social design involves constant negotiation with differently positioned actors and the ability to improvise, adapt and resolve conflict is paramount. I argue that from design anthropological perspectives, design is an assemblage, a coming-together of the temporal, the material and the social. Social design is a collaborative performance that never ends. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 66 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 326
Keyword [en]
Social design, sustainable development, urban-rural interaction, negotiation
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306143OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-306143DiVA: diva2:1039822
External cooperation
Interactive Institute
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2016-08-22, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:30 (English)
Available from: 2016-10-25 Created: 2016-10-25 Last updated: 2016-10-25Bibliographically approved

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