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Exploring the design dynamics of community-based social innovation projects by applying the theory of infrastructuring

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Social innovations are products, services and models that meet social needs and generate new social connections or collaborations. Interaction design research aimed at supporting social innovation projects has only recently begun to gain momentum. To better support social innovations and further promote social change, interaction designers need to better understand the emerging possibilities, limitations and implications in those projects. In this dissertation, to further explore how interaction designers can play a role in promoting social innovation, I utilize the theory of infrastructuring in relation to the theoretical framework publics (Le Dantec, 2016) for interpreting the underlying design process in social innovation projects in community contexts. I believe the application of the infrastructuring concept allows design to have a role in describing in detail the design process of those projects. Infrastructuring helps to reveal the inner workings of such projects. Moreover, personally being involved in several social innovation projects, such as being a community gardener, I was amazed by and interested in understanding more about the creativity of people in the design process of these projects. Hence, the goal of this research is to provide a comprehensive description and interpretation of the collective design of community-based social innovation projects. This dissertation reports on a multiple-case study that describes the design process of three community-based social innovation projects in the city of Vancouver - Inner City Farms, Vancouver Tool Library, and Woodland Community Garden. Based on the description, design implications are proposed to discuss the potentialities of interaction design in supporting the design process of such projects. On the one hand, this research highlights the aspects of the design process in which interaction designers can play a significant role and further support social innovation. On the other hand, applying the notion of infrastructuring to the collective design of community-based social innovation projects provides an opportunity to extend the understanding of design toward a more dynamic and open-ended process where conflicts, standards, and adaptions are interwoven within an infrastructuring process.
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Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Wakkary, Ron
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