Activity 3: Journal Research

Assessment 1: Activity 3: Journal Research

There is quite an unclear definition of what design activism essentially is and what it can achieve. For the most part, design activism promotes social change, but it is the aesthetics of the design that directly affect society. Designing for social change is a major task, that should not be taken on lightly; an extensive amount of planning should be involved, as well as research and so on.

In the article, The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism (Markussen, 2013), Thomas Markussen (2013) gives an intriguing and compelling argument of what design activism truly is and focuses on the two components, art and politics, that hold the discipline together and their “interrelation between aesthetics and the political” (Markussen, 2013, p.39). Markussen (2013) argues that the focus within design activism is on the “effect evoked in the people” (Markussen, 2013, p.50) not the techniques of the design. This article was written with a clear precise language, which made it quite persuasive and engaging. Markussen (2013) made his argument convincing as he presented his insights, with a diagram to show and prove his point, that design activism cannot be defined as just political, because aesthetics are the central discipline (Markussen, 2013, p.41).

In contrast to Markussen (2013), Bauke Steenhuisen’s (2013) article shifted from the focus of design activism and gave insight into the process, the technique, of designing for social change. In his article, How to Design for Social Change (Steenhuisen, 2013), Steenhuisen designs a template that is quite informative, yet easy to follow, which breaks down each stage within the design process and gives his advise on each step. Steenhuisen (2013) is an assistant professor at Delf University and considers ‘design for social change’ the core of his discipline. What was most intriguing about his article, is his commitment to his students and his passion to feed them the knowledge he believes they need in order to be successful designers. The arguments Steenhuisen puts forward are convincing, as he uses real life examples to back up his statements, using examples from his students in this case such as “each year, students want to convince me that they lack a more structured step-by-step approach to account for social complexity in design thinking” (Steenhuisen, 2013, p.303). Steenhuisen’s aim, in comparison with Markussen (2013) is to make the complex clearer and better comprehended.


Markussen, T. (2013). The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism: enacting design between art and politics. Design Issues, 29(1), 38-50. Retrieved from

Steenhuisen, B. (2013). How to Design for Social Change: a template. Journal of Design Research, 11(4), 301-316. doi: 10.1504/JDR.2013.057758


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