Title: A narrowing of meaning: loss of narrative unity and the nature of design change

Authors: Stuart Walker

Addresses: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University, The Roundhouse, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK

Abstract: This paper seeks to explore where design might best focus its efforts with respect to contemporary concerns about sustainability, particularly in view of the magnitude and nature of change required. The discussion traces the long entrenchment, over several centuries, of assumptions, conventions and outlooks that resulted in a shift in worldview from traditional to modern/late-modern. This shift is not only associated with unprecedented environmental damage, but also with a narrower perspective, a loss of narrative unity, and a loss of meaning. The argument is made that, by focusing on rationalistic, techno-scientific solutions design restricts its contribution to a variety of incremental changes that actually support the continuance of a fundamentally unsustainable system. Instead, design can widen its purview and be a catalyst for more substantive change by restoring a more balanced approach to products and processes in context; thereby contributing to a recovery of narrative unity and meaning.

Keywords: unsustainable worldview; global-local; rational; intuitive; narrative unity; design change; sustainability; sustainable development; incremental changes; meaning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSDES.2014.071462

International Journal of Sustainable Design, 2014 Vol.2 No.4, pp.283 - 296

Received: 14 Jul 2014
Accepted: 23 Sep 2014

Published online: 29 Aug 2015 *

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