Introduction: Material Preference and Design Activism

Guy Julier (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Developing out of the 2011 Design History Society conference held in Barcelona (convened by Julier), this special issue brings together scholarship on social design, design activism, participatory design and sustainable design in the context of crises in neoliberal economics, social justice and climate change. Edited by Julier, it is the first peer-reviewed journal issue to provide a focused investigation of design activism that examines the relationship between historical enquiry and contemporary design practice and policy. The approach taken by Julier to the edited collection emerged from discussions at the Barcelona conference and research undertaken for a number of invited lectures that Julier gave at the Festival de la Imagen in Colombia (2012) and the Graphic Knowledge Fair in Warsaw (2012). Observing the increased attention design activism has received at international conferences (e.g. Changing the Change 2008, NORDES 2011, Cumulus 2011) and the frequent focus upon the possibilities for design activism, this issue adds to these discussions by providing a critical analysis of past and contemporary practices to help establish a practical and theoretical framework for design activism. Julier’s single-authored article explores the interrelationship between design culture, design activism, and neoliberalism. Undertaking an historical assessment of the aims, objectives, and results of design activist projects, Julier highlights the role design activism can play in design culture and provides a conceptual framework for understanding design activism in relation to the processes of neoliberalism. Thus Julier’s research is in opening out discussion of design into political economy theory and placing the analysis of design activism between these.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-150
Number of pages6
JournalDesign and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


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