Assessing design approaches' political role in the public sector

Federico Vaz*, Maria Ferreira Litowtschenko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Governments worldwide are increasingly adopting design tools and methods to explore new ways of public policy-making and governance. Such design approaches are often portrayed as politically neutral. Building on contemporary research that argues the contrary, this paper proposes a framework for making their political dimension explicit by distinguishing between the artefacts, techniques, and discourses that compose them. This paper is based on an interactive session held at DRS2018, where design practitioners and academics piloted the proposed framework and follow-up interviews with some of the participants. The analysis revealed the recurrence of certain themes, in particular the reinforcement of existing power relations and the encroachment of market logics into the public sector through the introduction of design approaches. This, we argue, shows how the proposed framework contributes to the awareness of the political implications of design tools and methods used in the public sector by making their underlying political conceptions visible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197 - 212
JournalJournal of Design Research
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • design
  • public sector
  • political
  • ideologies


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