Mapping Social Design Research and Practice is a nine-month study for the AHRC to map and analyse research and practice in the emerging field of social design. The aim is to inform the AHRC about current issues and opportunities in the UK and to a lesser extent, internationally, and make recommendations about research needs. Social design is a diffused set of design-like practices across many fields of application including local and central government, policy areas such as healthcare and international development, as well as being promoted by some funders, activists and non-profit and commercial providers. Although all designing can be understood as social, the term “social design” highlights design-based practices within an extended field in relation to policy, and towards collective and social ends, rather than predominantly commercial objectives. The research will situate the emergence of social design within larger political, economic and socio-cultural developments and understands design practice within wider debates about policy, investment and evaluation.
The research is taking place between November 2013 and July 2014. Research methods include literature reviews, interviews, site visits, desk research into academic studies, digital research, and a speculative workshop with practitioners about their research needs. The outputs will include a report to the AHRC including an analysis of issues within social design and recommendations for future research, and a public seminar sharing findings with researchers and practitioners in June 2014.