First, thanks for the references. I’ll get to them soon.
Again, you are slanting the solutions to one side which I think is a terrible mistake for designers. e.g., “They don’t just want electric power, they want it cheap, and solar panels are not cheap.” Cheap is only 1 driver. They want power without pollution, air or water, and they definately don’t want it in their back yard. Just like your other examples, limiting yourself to one driver will limit your solutions instead a taking a broader view. Do you design a disposable razor or do you design a means to remove hair from your face? The results of that change in drivers will yield vastly different results.
The hypocrisy comes from the top-down cattle herding approach of changing personal behavior under the guise of user centered design.
Actually, by only offering a disposable razor, you are doing a top-down cattle herding approach. You are changing behavior - 100 years ago people didn’t throw away things after 3 uses, now they do. That’s why I prefer the broad view and the individual can choose. A true design democracy puts forth all ideas. Some will stick, some won’t. You judge the idea one way, I do it another and everyone else judges it their own way. You seem to want to censor ideas you consider “change personal behavior”. I say let them stand or fall on their own merits.
That’s funny, you said almost exactly what I said before.
This is not what I’m saying at all. In a truly democratic design process, anyone would be able to design/produce/promote whatever kind of product they want, free to fail or succeed on their own merits. I think you and I agree on this approach.
The difference is see in your razor example is the introduction of disposable razors was most likely not a social experiment. Rather, it was an additional option on a drug store shelf. You could still use your traditional razor. There was a choice, you had options. Market forces decided that disposable razors would win out. Since then, we’ve had all kinds of options to remove hair from the face. There are hair removing chemicals, electric razors, traditional “old school” razors, laser hair removal, electrolysis, waxing, plucking, etc. Disposable razors still win out (like the Mach 5). I’m not saying that a perfect society should ONLY offer disposable razors.
Ok, so social behavior changes after the introduction of a successful product. This is to be expected. But the Design for Social Change movement is different in the way it seeks change. A group of designers pairs with local planners, politicians, and societal ‘experts’ to define what to them is a more ‘preferable’ way of doing things. They rely on legislation to impose change. The goal is not to add more choices, it is to put a product in place and then legislate success.
Take San Fran for instance. People are generally happy going to the grocery store and use plastic bags. The city bans plastic bags. Residents enjoy taking their kids to McDonald’s and the kids like the happy meal toys. The city bans toys in happy meals. If these were truly left to market forces, to “stand or fall on their own merits”, plastic bags would have already been replaced, McD’s would save money on making crappy toys.
In Chicago, there is a problem with childhood obesity (not uncommon to other places). The solution is not to provide more choices of healthy foods, it is to ban home-made lunches.
For parents whose kids do not qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, the $2.25 daily cafeteria price can also tally more than a homemade lunch. “We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” Northwestern education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach told the paper in an email. She told The Lookout parents at her child’s public school would be upset if they tried to ban homemade lunches.
How is this allowing a product/service/system to “stand or fall on their own merits”?
Remember that group that provided women in some remote village with rolling 50 gallon water tanks? They did it so the women wouldn’t have to carry water on their heads, and could increase water carrying efficiency. The women loved it and it changed their culture immensely. That’s good! It was freely and voluntarily adopted. This is the approach I approve of. If they had gone in and passed laws saying ‘this is the new way’, I would have been opposed. Yet it seems Design for Social Change is headed in this exact direction. At least in the US.