Five components of social design: A unified framework to support research and practice

Nynke Tromp*, Stéphane Vial

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Although the term social design is being widely adopted around the world, conceptual clarity is still lacking. The way social design is understood and executed can vary greatly. Without a shared conceptual foundation, knowledge exchange and development are restricted, and so is the professionalisation of practice. This paper brings forward a framework that unites all social design around an overarching objective to foster the common good but argues that design activities to do so may be driven by different values and focus on different outcomes. We identify five components of social design: (1) care-driven design activities for the wellbeing of underprivileged people, (2) responsiveness-driven design activities for good governance, (3) political progress-driven design activities for empowered citizens, (4) social capital-driven design activities for beneficial communities, and, (5) resilience-driven design activities for sustainable future systems. We describe how the framework helps explain, discuss and systematically study social design.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalDesign Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • common good
  • Social design
  • social design activities
  • social values


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