Design and Political Economy in the UK

Guy Julier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The period of the United Kingdom's Labour government, 1997-2010, saw two strident policy vectors. One was in the promotion of the creative industries as a lever for urban regeneration and national renewal in the face of the decline of its manufacturing base and the globalisation of its economy. The second was in the increased emphasis on financialisation to underpin both corporate and public sectors. Both of these were, in fact, intensifications of former Conservative policies developed through the early 1990s. This paper reviews some changes in the UK government policy on design, principally through its Design Council, as a function of the political economy during this period. It draws attention to important shifts in the professional practice of design and governmental promotion and use thereof - especially of service design and "design thinking" - that suggest a new attitudinal approach as to its role. It then places these shifts next to changes in public sector management and thinking. In particular, we see how certain conceptions and practices of design become embedded in its signalling of value inpotentia rather than in putting value into things.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalKnowledge, Technology and Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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