Visual summary of “Design Justice” by Sasha Costanza-Chock

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DESIGN JUSTICE: Community led practices to design the world we need

By Sasha Costanza-Chock (Summary by Joy Ming)

Design justice considering how DESIGN distributes both penalties and privileges to individuals based on their location within the MATRIX OF DOMINATION and to attend to the ways this operates at various scales

  • Design: affordances, disaffordances; objects/environments; services, systems, processes
  • Matrix of domination: interlocking systems of oppression like white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, settler colonialism, ableism

Design Justice Principles

  1. [image of a growing plant]
    We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems
  2. [image of three breaths of air]
    We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.
  3. [image of seven dots]
    We prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.
  4. [image of a rising dove]
    We view change as emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end of a process.*
  5. [image of a brook with rocks]
    We see the role of the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.
  6. [image of puzzle pieces]
    We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and that we all have unique and brilliant contributions to bring to a design process.
  7. [image of open hands]
    We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.
  8. [image of a solidarity fist]
    We work towards sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes.
  9. [image of vines in the shape of a heart]
    We work towards non-exploitative solutions that reconnect us to the earth and to each other.
  10. [image of five flames]
    Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional, indigenous, and local knowledge and practices.

Design justice considerations

  • VALUES. Make explicit to prioritize design work that shifts advantages to those who are currently systematically disadvantaged within the matrix of domination
  • PRACTICES. Design teams should themselves be more diverse, but, with awareness to the power and politics of participation, use it as a tool to amplify, support, and extend existing community-based processes, utilizing the tacit and experiential knowledge of community members
  • NARRATIVES. Those with lived experiences are recognized as co-designers, co-owners, co-authors; highlighting user innovation and breaking the cycle of technology appropriation to define problems and develop solutions together.
  • SITES. Innovation offices tend to reproduce neoliberal values of efficiency, predictability, and individualism; subaltern design sites have always existed but sociotechnical design practices, spaces, networks, and histories that are about women and femmes, QTPOC, and/or disabled people remain marginalized, invisibilized, and under-resourced.
  • PEDAGOGY. Popular education utilizes the idea of the pedagogy of the oppressed, but approaches like critical community technology pedagogy, participatory action design, data feminism, constructionism, digital media literacy can help technology be taken back by the people and used as a tool of liberation

Wants to change the world using technology. Loves both exploring new places and curling up with a good book and a cup of tea.