Designing Consent

The article on design thinking and democracy is published. Here is some background on it.

The text is a part of an ongoing collaboration with Otto von Busch; the past couple of years we have been writing various texts on realist accounts of the place of design in contemporary business and public administration.

The title of the article is, of course, a reference to the notion of ”manufacturing consent” – a term that points back to Walter Lippman’s Public Opinion. Indeed, we are suggesting that the design profession ought to be studied critically, just as the public relations profession has been throughout most of the 20th century. It seems we are not the only ones to use this title to make the connection between the critique of PR and the critique of design, but still… I think it gives the reader a quick sense of the jist of our argument.

Anyway, here is the abstract:

This article interrogates the proposition, recently put forward by design thinking advocates Tim Brown and Roger Martin, that democratic capitalism needs design thinking. More specifically, it assesses three problematics that emerge when design thinking moves from corporate settings to the public sphere of democratic deliberation. The text thus discusses the potential for design thinking to be used as a tool for the exercise of cybernetic control in the context of a mounting dissent with social injustice, and the extent to which it may be deployed as a means to ”guide” democracy. Furthermore, it posits that the expectations placed on design thinking reflect the design profession”™s agnostic approach to realpolitik.