Dickens P G, 1980, "Social science and design theory" Environment and Planning B 7(3) 353 – 360
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Social science and design theory
P G Dickens
Received 15 July 1980, in revised form 30 December 1980
Abstract. This paper is a commentary on some relationships between social science and design theory, issues which have been raised in recent books including Architecture and its Interpretation (Bonta, 1979) and Signs, Symbols, and Architecture (Broadbent et al, 1980). It is argued that the present relationships are largely unsatisfactory. First, theory -- such as semiology -- is borrowed from other disciplines such as linguistics in a manner which does not recognise design as a social product. Second, the theory 'fetishises' design: elevating it as a series of cult objects rather than as commodities. A more fruitful approach would be to locate design theory within social science. More specifically, it is suggested that design should be reconceptualised as the interaction between ideology and the production processes. This leads to a social theory of (rather than for) design.
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