Design Ethnography: Research, Responsibilities and Futures


This book presents an ethical, inclusive and interventional design research approach, tailored to the challenges of our world in crisis. It draws on the shared design ethnographic practice of six women, over ten years, with a commitment to engender safe and trusted futures for people, planet, other species and technologies.

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  • History shows that the best conceived designs can fail due to unanticipated social change. However little is known about how people will live in the future, the roles other animal and plant species will play in our lives, how environmental change will impact us and how everyday creativity will shape possible futures. We cannot avoid uncertainty, but to more accurately and ethically anticipate, and design services, things or emerging technologies for safe, trusted and hopeful futures we must innovate to better understand, constitute and account for realistic and plausible visions of future life. Design Ethnography responds to this challenge.

  • The book delivers a unique interdisciplinary approach to designing for social and experiential futures in times of uncertainty and crisis. It draws on the authors' intellectual leadership and interventional practice at the intersection of design, anthropology, sociology, pedagogy and geography to fine-tune the theoretical and conceptual and methodological tools needed. It presents a rigorously researched and tested framework and approach, and a set of adaptable, transferable and scaleable design ethnographic methods and techniques. These are demonstrated through 29 real cases, which illustrate applications in innovative practices of design ethnographic evaluation, prototyping, experimenting, transformation, revaluing, workshopping; and engagement.

  • Design Ethnography provides guidance and inspiration to the authors' global audience and following of professional and university-based designers, scholars and stakeholders. Lead author, Pink, is an internationally leading design anthropologist, and all authors have international followings. The book represents and demonstrates the impact of 29 existing cases of their practice. Routledge is a world-class, carbon-neutral, global publisher. The book's Altmetric of 77 is exceptional for a design research book, and the response to the book's first prepublication announcement gained an outstanding: 52,248 impressions; 1,115 reactions; 43 comments; and 47 reposts. Its fast growing citation impact will be evident over time.

  • Design Ethnography is authored by six women members of the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University, who have collectively, carefully and reflectively built the design and research theory, practice, impact and engagement exemplified in the book over the last decade. Their international experience across Australia and the Asia Pacific, Latin America, the United Kingdom and Europe, brings a uniquely global perspective, accountability and awareness to the research and ensures that it is accessible to global audiences, while demonstrating and promoting design research leadership from Australia. All 29 cases discussed in the book involved "world's first" methods and practice innovations often blending design, ethnography and documentary video and photography practice. They also represent the authors' partnerships with internationally leading industry, local government and not-for-profit organisations, including Volvo Cars (Sweden), Intel Corporation (USA), Energy Consumers Australia, Bendigo Health and Victoria Markets and a charity. Many cases were funded by prestigious competitive grants from the Australian Research Council, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Spanish national funding agency. Other cases were funded by innovation grants: Vinnova, Sweden's Innovation Agency; a Transurban Innovation Grant, and a Department of Health Innovation Grant.