Family narratives and identity navigation in social design: A method of analysis

Eva Knutz*, Thomas Markussen, Valentijn Visch, Ed Tan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to show how an interdisciplinary merging of social design and narrative theory can increase understanding of how vulnerable families navigate personal and shared identities. We draw upon results from a design research project that introduces board games in prisons to help children develop bonds with their incarcerated fathers. In our case study we offer a method of analysis that enables design researchers to delve into the complex field of identity navigation. Further, we offer a focused reflection arguing that the vulnerability of these families can be conceived as family identities being broken or challenged. We attempt to show that identity is constructed through family members' co-authoring of family narratives, which manifest themselves in different formats such as 'master narratives' and 'counter narratives'. Design research has the potential to examine identity formations by applying narrative theory in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-409
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Design Research
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Constructive design research
  • Family narratives
  • Identity navigation
  • Social design
  • Social games


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