Live Concert Analysis How Doing Good Makes Thesis

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Live Concert Analysis How Doing Good Makes Us Feel Powerful and Powerless at the Same Time

Design Activism vs. Design for Social Change

The Awakening Consciousness of Designers 1960's


There has been lukewarm interest in public service design, social impact and design activism. But in most conversations, all other designs work to enhance the standard of living of the people; some of it must be activism. The argument is seldom boosted by the notion that architecture has been impacted by intellectual movements and arts for instance, modernism which fuels an idea of a revolutionary society. These movements had ideal proposals for society's reforms. They were related deeply to commerce and aesthetics as well (Jose et al., 2008). Consider the difference between modernism and activism for that matter. The modernism idea states that people stand equals to each other, while society became united in every aspect for instance uniting laborers, designers and users alike. Now put that in perspective with bus boycott of the 1950's. The American blacks put forward an end to black degradation on bus seating (McAdam, 1983). The first one is an abstract philosophy, while the other is just directed activism.

Famous activist movements: Art and design

The traditional activist scenes are commonplace: bunch of people standing together with their lives at risk, holding a strike or a long march to voice their concerns against the status quo, calling for social reforms, finally overturning the decision makers and public anticipation. We do seldom fail to identify how buildings and everyday furniture, in their core design and physical orientation can be resisting the status quo, voicing a call for change and affecting the policy makers. In this paper, design is deemed as activism. The term activism is described a bit briefly here and then paving the way for comprehending design activism and social movement studies to explain more concisely.

Activism is the call for action demanding a change for the wronged, oppressed or the affected group. It is propelled by the wrongdoing or offensive behavior which needs to be rectified (Tilly, 1995). According to Jordan, activism is a moral obligation which demands a better society from human beings (Jordan, 2002). This means that activism can be progressive and regressive for that matter. It could be either visionary or reactionary. A case in point, Jordan indicates that U.S. Patriot movement was very reactionary. The sociologists have observed the white separatists for alteration is "pride and heritage" was employed by minorities later (Benford and Snow, 2000).


A unique design does work to instill a change. In its intricate form, the good design (serviceable, lucrative, attractive and expressive) doesn't infuse activism on behest of omitted and abandoned groups. It also stands for general enhancements to everyday living which is attained by private undertakings, retrieved in accordance with consumer's capacity to pay up, whether the customer is an individual, entity or a company.

Design activism against socially conscious design

During the last ten years, the design activism has brought great awareness driving research and interest in the arena (see e.g. Borasi & Zardini, 2008; DiSalvo, 2010; Fuad-Luke, 2009; Markussen, 2011; Mogel & Bhagat, 2008; Thorpe, 2008).

Generally, the design activism means playing the central character in:

Driving social change

Creating awareness among the masses and alter their beliefs (ecological change, sustenance)

Questioning the cause and effects of consumerism and mass production on daily life of consumers

Design activism doesn't mean one context. It has many contexts. It can deal in interactive designs, product designs, urban designs, architecture, fashion and textiles for that matter (see e.g. Fuad-Luke, 2009).

The current understanding of design activism is very thin. How does design activism matter and how does it hold true? How exactly activism works? How much impact does activism have on people in their daily routine and how different is it from its derived arts, namely political activism and art activism? This paper will find the probable causes and investigate how design activism affects urban life and public sphere for that matter (Markussen, 2011).

The word activism is often confused with political activism which is purely wrong. Design activism and political activism are different. Political activism involves global, anti-global, movements and ant capitalist movements for that matter.

So some authors believe that design activism has its roots in activism and can be comprehended in spheres of concepts and ideas taken from sociology (Thorpe 2008) or political theory (DiSalvo 2010). Design activism might arouse political activism; they are both very different from each other. There isn't concrete evidence in this regard. Armed with political theory and sociology, some light is shed on democracy, public space and participation apart from variety of other topics of design activists. Still, it can't define and depict design activism. Design activism is free...


It arouses the resistance to power by penetrating the lives of common people. This is the topic for research in design research (Markussen, 2011).
The design activism has been used in the light of work done on some art movements such as avant-garde, community art and social interventionism. For example, it has been indicated that subversive techniques were employed in urban design activism to draw attention to art production practices. These practices were introduced by Situationists way back in 1960's (Holmes, 2007). A clear understanding is required to look into design activism; the focus must be on the design act from art historian genealogy. The urban design activists employed techniques seen in the days of avant-garde. But exploiting them in a different way, the designer way is varied. The effects can't be comprehended properly. For example, in the avant-garde project redefining the boundaries of art and enlarging them.

They shouldn't be interpreted in the revolutionary terms or the grandiose social utopias as seen in avant-garde. The intimate fabric of aesthetics-political combines to respond the activist form of design activism (Markussen, 2011).

Adbusters and Good magazine

Adbusters Media Foundation was founded way back in 1989. It's a Canadian nonprofit institution. It's also pro-environment and anti-consumerist (About 2011). The founders are Bill Schmalz and Kalle Lasn with headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia.

It is completely opposed to any form of capitalism and anti-capitalist ideas (Pfanner, 2004). It's known for publishing the reader supported, ad free Adbusters issue. It's a magazine with 120,000 readers internationally. The readers are challenging consumerism (May, 2003). Adbusters has grown to be a "worldwide network of artists, writers, activists, prankster, students, entrepreneurs and educators, who want to propel the activist movement in this digital age."

Good magazine is a wonderfully decorated magazine about lifestyle and trends. It aims to cover up the craft, gardening section, food, home section, health and beauty section. Good is a bi-monthly magazine. Every issue contains hot and trending recipes. The home ideas are new and innovative. They leave an indelible mark. It has great advice on parenting and gardening as well. Good Shopping Handbook is a yearly bonus issue. Good magazine works for the audience and covers this section selflessly. It also prints articles on health, justice, environment and inspirational stories of great achievements. Good magazine is for proactive women. Advice and inspiration is present for homemakers who seek a trendy and healthy lifestyle. The living styles can be manipulated. Good magazine is printed on Sumo offset stock using BJ Ball with the help of FSC-MIX source pulp taken from forests and various sources. Good magazine is printed with soy and vegetable inks (GOOD, 2013).


These advertisements were produced and published in Good Magazine recently (Good, 2013)

All ads below have been published in Adbusters in the recent past.


Taken from: (Adbusters, 2013)

1.3.2. Merits and demerits


Merits: They are funny yet serious. They convey the message to the overall audience

Demerits: Websites will repeat what's in the print versions

In conclusion: Adbusters stirs the conscious of the general audience. Art can make a huge change in otherwise artless world.

GOOD magazine

Merits: They are brilliant, visually beautiful and neatly done

Demerits: They are costly with quality variations

Helping The World With Socially Conscious Design

The definition of social design

The social design has relative definitions and the word can be put to different uses all over the globe. Some definitions exist in the design world and refer to the conventional meanings. They can indicate the criteria of the product and services. The rest of the definitions of social design mean raising eyebrows, awareness and designs standard of the world (Margolin, 2002).

Social change in design with respect to 21st century

The design activism takes traditional approach sometimes. It depends on the designers. For instance, the architecture 2030 uses 'a teach' in for idea about design's role for ecological change (Szenasy, 2007). The Socially Responsible Design consists of architects and planners who rallied against the designing of new prisons (Lubell, 2005). The Designer's Accord does employ the traditional form of signing and pledging to set of points, in ways of traditional petition signing (Brown, 2009). This and various other instances show that designers employ traditional activism forms. This point-of-view does fall in expectations in conjunction with designing structures, processes and objects.

Impact on social fabric

Protest and its elements of design

In literature, a similar theme arises where artifacts are taken as objects…

Sources Used in Documents:

references and charitable habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. Convio and Edge Research. (2010).

Boehnert, J. "In the Front Line," Creative Review, October 2008.

Borasi, G., & Zardini, M. (Eds.). Actions: What you can do with the city. Canadian Centre for Architecture. (2008).

Brown, T., Sklar, A., Speicher, S., Solomon D. And Wyatt, J. "Design For Social Impact," (New York: The Rockefeller Foundation, 2009), 80-81.

Cowan, G. "Street Protest Architecture," Bad Subjects, January 2004.
Dossier. Sustainability -- From Principle To Practice Goethe-Institut, March 2008. Accessed from:
GOOD Magazine. About us. (2013). Accessed from:
UN. Enhancing the role of industry through for example, private-public partnerships, May 2011. United Nations Environment Programme Accessed from:

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