Managing mess: Exploring how to design and conduct research into design practice

Arlene Oak, Claire Nicholas, Janet Mcdonnell, nathan crilly

University of Alberta, University of Alberta, University of the Arts London, University of Cambridge


Keywords: Collaboration, Data Analysis, Design Practice; Design Research

Conversation Overview

In his book After Method: Mess in social science research, John Law, a sociologist of science and technology, explores research into phenomena that are ‘messy’. Law outlines the problem of scholars who bring research methods to complex social situations in ways that, in their attempts to clarify, ultimately result in distorting these situations. Law argues that, since many methods are engaged with simplifying and describing social realities, rather than offering a neutral mode of understanding them, the methods actively help to create the realities. In effect, social realities as revealed by methods, are underpinned by the political positions of those methods. Accordingly, Law advocates thinking ‘hard about our relations with whatever it is we know’ as we ask ‘how far the process of knowing’ also brings into being that which we seek to understand. This DRS Conversation is mindful of the issues outlined by Law, and will explore what different researchers and practitioners of design can say about modes of design practice. 

This conversation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

download conversation Proposal (PDF). No report is available. 

This conversation took place on Wednesday 29th June at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme


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