Abstract

Using data from the historical record of a major nineteenth century infrastructure project, this paper shows how controversial national debates can be seen as processes of design. Central to the idea of political debate as design is the concept of framing, where different ways of understanding a developing artefact are played out through conflict and resolution. The paper begins by setting the governmental context of infrastructure development before undertaking a detailed textual analysis of a specific meeting to draw out elements of a design-like discourse. The meeting participants construct a sequence of frames through which they explore their problem and with which they refine a strategy for moving forward in the process. The paper concludes that viewing political debate as a process of design can shift emphasis away from it being considered a ‘simple’ decision-making to more complex ideas about how our common future is shaped.

Keywords:

Political debate, design process, frames, design discourse, infrastructure.

Share

COinS
 
Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Political debate as design process: A frame analysis

Using data from the historical record of a major nineteenth century infrastructure project, this paper shows how controversial national debates can be seen as processes of design. Central to the idea of political debate as design is the concept of framing, where different ways of understanding a developing artefact are played out through conflict and resolution. The paper begins by setting the governmental context of infrastructure development before undertaking a detailed textual analysis of a specific meeting to draw out elements of a design-like discourse. The meeting participants construct a sequence of frames through which they explore their problem and with which they refine a strategy for moving forward in the process. The paper concludes that viewing political debate as a process of design can shift emphasis away from it being considered a ‘simple’ decision-making to more complex ideas about how our common future is shaped.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.