Saturday, October 3, 2009

Professionalization - a real debate happening right now

OK - there has been an ongoing debate the last couple of weeks on the PhD in Design listserv - quite a juicy debate and a little "highbrow" as well. One comment seemed particularly salient given our readings this next week (and the one beyond it on design) - I'll share it here (below).

A couple of thoughts (1) wow - other people are having the same conversations we're having in class, (2) pushing on questions about the nature of a profession is essentially pushing on ideas of what it means to prepare people for a profession (aka philosophy of education), (3) philosophy has value in current conversations, and (4) constructing a profession - hmmm - happens through people - happens as boundary work.

-----Original Message-----
From: Lubomir Savov Popov
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 10:11 AM
To: Klaus Krippendorff; PHD-DESIGN@JISCMAIL.AC.UK
Subject: RE: On design - again?

Dear colleagues,

Even when I follow this erudite and imaginative debate, a primer for scholarly discussions, I can't help reflecting on my previous proposals. I still believe that when discussing a profession and the social construction of a profession, an approach coming from philosophy and sociology of professions might be more productive. Many of the issues we discuss can easily be resolved from the position of one of those approaches. And many of the issues and problems we formulate here might well be reformulated so that they are resolved productively.

There is an old adage that war is too important to be left only to the generals. We can paraphrase this for design and will see that the social construction of a profession is far more complex that the linguistics regarding this profession. There are so many parties involved, each one construing its own version, promoting it, defending it, and actually often fighting for it. It seems to me that we went too far working only with words and shying away from the social construction of conceptualizations, meanings, conventions, criteria and norms for identification of a phenomenon, and so forth.

Let's take as an example the current process of social construction of interior design profession in the U.S.A. It can serve as a great laboratory for exploring the making of a profession, the making of conventions, the sharing of conventions, the economic interests, and the politics of defending economic privileges. It is also an example of use and abuse of language, languaging and language games, premeditated and spontaneous distortions of meanings, restricting and controlling the use of words, and so forth.

Design is too important to be left only to designers, design researchers, and even the general public. It evidently needs a coordinated effort from all parties to negotiate the boundaries of the profession. Actually, when we talk about design in our tradition on this list, we touch hundreds of professions. By the way, that is another topic. Design, its many applications, and the corresponding hundreds of professions.

Thank you for attention,


PS In the example regarding interior design I skipped many other interest groups/stake holders. Let's ask architects what is interior design and the war on words will start again.

End of PHD-DESIGN Digest - 1 Oct 2009 to 2 Oct 2009 (#2009-232)