February 20, 2017

Discussion Session 2.20.2017 – Social Practice Theory

Using the group activity from class of finding practices within our wicked maps, how might we incorporate social practice theory into design research? What type of tools or exercises may be helpful in mapping/understanding practices? When in the process design process can you image practices being useful? Are new methodologies needed?

Discussion Leaders: Lauren Miller, Manjari Sahu, Nehal Vora and Jesse Wilson

39 Comments
  1. Thanks to everyone for the great work and discussion today!

    I happened to come across a very insightful article in the NYT about the water shortages in Mexico City. There are many wicked problems at play – many already with drastic consequences to most notably the poor. But this article had me thinking about some of the practices involved and some of the negative practices that are created by the dire situation in Mexico and just how unsustainable it is.

    Please check it out – it’s a good read.
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/17/world/americas/mexico-city-sinking.html?_r=0

    • I had no idea this was happening, so thank you for sharing this. It was really interesting how the stage for this was set over 500 years ago by the Spaniards. It goes to show how far-reaching human impact on the environment can be, and how important a consideration of the very-long-term is in what we do. (One would think we’d learn from history.) It also makes me wonder if there’s a historical-analysis component to wicked mapping and transitioning that is worth exploring.

    • Agreed—what an article. On a less related note, the visuals integration was such a strong complement to the piece, and a fuller scope of the consequences of this wicked problem were communicated so effectively; the time span and pace is alarming.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Jesse. Coincidentally I read the article while in Mexico City last week and had the same reaction about the negative practices that this problem perpetuates. I was on a short trip and stayed in an apartment where the water was not safe to drink, but was at least running. Buying water (all in plastic bottles) became a part of our daily routine,and despite being inconvenient and unsustainable we were privileged to have that option. The article made me think about the challenges with finding a starting place for solving a problem like the water crisis that has so many interwoven dependencies. The exercise we did with Dan on Wednesday was a helpful way to ground design research and problem solving efforts in an understanding of context to avoid the misconception that practices be attributed only to attitudes–the water crisis in Mexico City and the practices that result are a good example of how behaviors are informed by context.

  3. Social practice theory is useful in that it helps identify the drivers (or attitudes, as Dan Lockton presented it) behind certain practices. But we also know that attitudes are only one part of the equation, and that the context/environment may have a greater influence on behaviors than preferences or attitudes. Transitioning requires more than a change in individual practices; it requires system-level changes. Multi-Level Perspective theory fills in that gap by explaining how the regime *around* our practices can begin to shift. One of our readings for Monday theorizes on how Multi-Level Perspective and Social Practice Theory can be used in conjunction to get a more holistic view of the systems we are trying to transition. (I am one of the discussion leaders for Monday, so we will delve more into this idea then).

    • Thanks for highlighting this, Hajira. It is nice to take a position requiring top-down and bottom-up approaches toward transitions. Change takes place at many levels, it has to happen internally (self) and externally (society) for a large, sustained shift to occur. Im looking forward to the discussion on Monday regarding Multi-Level Perspective and Social Practice Theory used in conjunction. Transition takes long-term strategies combined with opportunistic tactics to be most effective.

      I really enjoyed Dan’s lecture and the exercise we participated in. I had never heard of Fundamental Attribution Error and think it is very useful to design and the social science’s.

      “When we are trying to understand and explain what happens in social settings, we tend to view behavior as a particularly significant factor. We then tend to explain behavior in terms of internal disposition, such as personality traits, abilities, motives, etc. as opposed to external situational factors.

      This can be due to our focus on the person more than their situation, about which we may know very little. We also know little about how they are interpreting the situation.

      Western culture exacerbates this error, as we emphasize individual freedom and autonomy and are socialized to prefer dispositional factors to situational ones.

      When we are playing the role of observer, which is largely when we look at others, we make this fundamental attribution error. When we are thinking about ourselves, however, we will tend to make situational attributions.”

      Realizing this bias and being aware of it’s affect on perception will make me a better design researcher and Im thankful to be aware of this phenomena.

    • Hajira, I agree that changes need to take place at different levels. However, I also really appreciated Dan’s lecture for how actionable and pragmatic it was. As a designer I can clearly imagine how I might design the context (making things easy, hard etc.) in an attempt to influence a user’s behavior. Shifting attitudes and values is a much harder task, so I appreciate his attempt to identify the low-hanging fruit.

      I also found the exercise was interesting in that it revealed the biases that may be present when we examine a person’s behavior. In this sense, I think this approach may be applicable to design research. For my group activity, we had a really interesting discussion about Manya’s behavior. In her scenario, she was shopping at Costco and purchasing junk food in bulk. While it may be easy to attribute this behavior to the person’s attitudes (doesn’t value healthy food etc.), it helps to reframe the behavior within the nuances of the context.

      • Thanks for your reply guys! It’s a really interesting point that you all have touched upon. Dan’s exercise helped us touch upon the drivers as well as the environments that they influence.

  4. I think social practice theory is very useful tool for driving people’s daily life in order to achieve sustainable behavior. However, the wicked problem of our group is crime which is not a daily life practice.

    In our discussion during the class, we try to focus on teenagers who have higher possibility to commit a crime and try to imagine their daily life. We think materialism might be a major factor. Material only fulfill people’s desire not needs. Desire could never be fulfilled and people always want more.If you see people doing bad things but gaining material wealth (which is a bad role model). What will you choose to do? When people try to convince you that spiritual wealth is more important while TV ads keep saying that material provides you a better life. What will you choose to do? This is more like a macro level view of the crime problem rather than micro social practice view.

    After we talk about our discussion, Terry mentioned that it might a lesson to be learned that social practice theory might not suitable for any wicked problem.

  5. Finding practices in our wicked maps led to a lot of realizations, including the fact that some topics are trickier to implement the understanding practices as effectively. For example, our group had the topic of gentrification. In our discussion and presentation of this exercise, we ran into some circular commentary: in looking at the increased practice of technological innovation and prioritization in gentrification, particularly in Pittsburgh, this methodology would require a consensus that gentrification is bad. The more we explored it, the more it seemed that some topics such as gentrification or crime perhaps would not manifest as clear understandings and research alone; however, other topics seemed to incorporate it more successfully.

    • Also, an interesting look at what could be seen as a systems-level change (funded by a tech company) on a universal basic income in a “pilot village” in Kenya and resulting immediate social practice changes (longer term results not yet known, as this happened in 2013).

    • Like Tammy said, we found that coming up with the practices that make up gentrification to be a difficult task. Along with technological innovation, we also considered the practice of higher education and its relation to gentrification. For example, the large number of higher educational institutes in Pittsburgh, has made it an attractive place for organizations to look for new talent. This has led to organizations setting up shop in the area and bringing in high paying jobs that people from outside the local community acquire. This then drives housing and other prices up as the new employees integrate themselves into the community. For students, this is a positive in that it provides potential jobs and learning opportunities. For existing residents, this may be a negative if they become priced out of the area they call home. New methodologies that involve practices and wicked problems that factor complexity and things that are neither completely positive or negative are needed as we attempt to understand more about wicked problems.

      • Our group was dealing with the problem of accessing high quality education. We started to question the practice of going to school everyday and thinking about a more place-based community setup of schooling. We also discussed the conventional school year calendar (going to school everyday for nine months and 3 months off). It’s difficult to start questioning the way these institutions work because they have been been rooted for so long and every practice around it was been completely normalized and established.
        It does lead me to think that in order to change practices around education (especially K-12) we would have to rethink practices around working as well. It would be very difficult to change anything without thinking about the parent-student system. When we frame the problem like that, a new set of practices open up (driving to school in the morning, walking children to bus stops, packing lunch, picking them up after school, helping with homework, etc). All of these practices are in a way determined by the resources parents have (time and money). I think it is worth exploring how practices of working and schooling could ties themselves. And what kind of intervention could come up from thinking about them as a system.

        • It is very interesting to see how two wicked problems intersect and feed each other to create more micro problems. As Silvia said reframing smaller parts of a larger system could be beneficial to define or see different contexts that a wicked problem occurs. For us, designers, it is very crucial to understand what kind of practices happen when in everyday lives of people. Since design itself does not occur in the vacuum, we need to go back-and-forth in all stages of the design process to reveal how existing practices will change with the proposed change, from exploratory research phase for concept development to evaluative research phase for validating proposed concepts. Also besides the cultural research of individuals, researching on how the social norms in the environment that these problems happen and the relationship of the status quo with these personal micro-interactions are important. To this day in course, I believe the proposed transition design framework outlines new ways of designing in this matter such as context-based design (as Dan pointed), co-designing, failure forgiving design, etc.

      • Our group similarly found the process coming up with the practices that make up gentrification to be a difficult task.

        It seemed to us that so many processes fueling gentrification are systemic in a way that mere individual human practices cannot touch.

        So much of gentrification revolves around shelter, a need that is more basic than any given practice. You can choose to shower in any number of ways, but if you are to live in a city, so many of the choices about which homes are economically available to you are not within your control. Thus coming up with which practices modulate such choices is a difficult matter. How could you act differently to end up not gentrifying if you can only afford lower-priced homes in a neighborhood ripe for gentrification? I wonder if gentrification can be solved at all.

    • It was indeed difficult to think about our everyday behavior and exercise that is interconnected with this topic of gentrification. Since it is a phenomenon that gradually penetrates every area we are living in thus influences us to the point where it formulates certain human behavior. We can’t stop this phenomenon because it, in many cases, results from causes that a lot of people put values, for example, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are human needs range from safety to self-actualization which definitely has something to do with higher education. Higher education is one of the main causes of gentrification, people are willing to go to top-notch schools for many reasons, and then we would see certain areas becoming overpopulated that keeps attracting various stakeholders. It then, changes the entire characteristic of one area very slowly: types of stores, events, entire system structure, and finally types of people behaviour. I think one of the possible solutions for it is to distributing high quality education resources or facilities and making them accessible to as many people as possible in order to reduce the education disparities between areas. As Tammy said, “other topics” should be incorporated and understood.

  6. Social practice theory is useful in design research process, which can help us reframe the problem. We should pay more attention to attitude and context, upon which people conduct their behavior and make choices.

    As for exercise of the finding practices within our wicked maps, at the beginning, we brainstormed about “How to get food” which is definitely counted as a daily practice. Then we landed on a spectrum of practices such like “going to supermarket” “going to grocery stores” “grocery delivery” and so on. We also find that there’re cultural preferences (we have American, Korean and Chinese) on even a small topic like the frequency of going to the grocery.

    Then our group chose “Delivery of groceries “ to analyze, take “Blue apron” as an example. Blue Apron is an online food system through which you can order portioned ingredients based on recipes. The customized meal plan saves people’s time of making choices and provides people with high-quality food and a healthier lifestyle. People tends to attracted by the pretty pictures and healthy recipes on Blue Apron, and it’s easy to follow the step-by-step recipes. Sharing photos of the good-looking healthy meal on social media give people a sense of achievement, and more people in the circle will be influenced. For this case, the individual attitude influenced individual behavior, collective behaviors in reverse shape the context, then the context finally influences individual attitude.

    This may be a positive example, but we also imagine some negative examples. Both attitude and context/environment are important in shaping people’s behavior, that’s why we need a system-level change.

  7. I would like to share some insights from my anthropology background regarding how to study social practices and use them to inform your design practice.

    In ethnographic research, we tend to focus in very specifically on a certain community in a particular place over a set period of time. This is because culture is a fluid, constantly changing set of behaviors and practices. I think this is a helpful thing to remember for designers because, if you’re designing a fitness app that will be used by everyone in the country, a study of fitness practices just in Pittsburgh is probably not going to accurately inform you regarding all the possibilities/manifestations of fitness in the US. It is also very important to consider the factor of time; if you conducted some research into fitness practices five years ago, your past research may not be 100% accurate towards current practices.

    In regards to tools for social practice research: if you want to deeply understand the practices of a community, you need to spend more than just an afternoon with that community. Perhaps befriend a few people in that community and make sure they’re acclimated to your presence. You and your presence will have an impact on the behaviors of the people you’e studying, and the longer you spend getting them comfortable with your presence the more accurate your insights will be. In some cases, you may not be able to fully understand the practices of a community due to your own identity. For instance, female anthropologists can sometimes have difficulty studying practices within male communities because a woman’s presence can impact how those male communities behave. This means that it may be worthwhile to bring in someone else in to do research with you, especially someone of another gender. You will probably find that between two researchers of different backgrounds/identities, you gain different insights into the community’s practices.

    • Vic, I wish this forum had a “like” button. Social Practice Theory, in my view, is one of the more useful theories for change we’ve covered in Transition Design. Perhaps I’m biased because of my anthropology background, but I think understanding behavior on the level of practice and the context in which practices develop and thrive is important to understanding where we can implement change. I do think it’s difficult to design at that level of granularity when Transition Design, to me, is about solving wicked problems.

      Dan Lockton’s lecture really resonated with me as well. Designing “with people” is really important, especially when we’re talking about any type of disparity in access, income, etc. Understanding the complexities of what it means to be human requires that the groups you’re designing for are deeply immersed in the process, and to Vic’s point, understanding how your presence as an outsider affects what people say and do is an important principle to consider. You have to understand that your presence can influence how people behave. I think this is especially important when communities are fatigued by social initiatives and privileged students coming in to help, only to leave after they’ve done enough to get published.

      I think social practice theory has a lot of value as long as you include the stakeholders in your decisions, get to know them as people over the long term, and stick around to actually implement and iterate on your work. This then begs the question: how is that sustainable for designers?? Who is funding it and what does it look like?

      I’ve now run ’round in a circle while writing, but I think it points to what I think are flaws in the transition design framework. We don’t have a sustainable way forward, yet. To do what I just proposed, we’d have to completely dismantle capitalism first. Transition design is very optimistic, but still doesn’t seem practical to me in terms of implementation.

      • Hey Vic and Monica,

        I agree with SO many of your points. To pick just one, designing “with people” is such an important step forward for design to take. Imposing a solution from an external perspective without digging into and collaborating with the people that you are designing for is a great way to create an irrelevant and unhelpful solution. Understanding your position as an outsider and the effect that your presence has is so key.

        I found Dan Lockton’s lecture so helpful. Often I have felt like we are talking about theoretical frameworks that, although attractive, have no practical applicability. Dan showed that if you understand peoples’ everyday practices and provide them with a context which encourages desirable behavior, many people will choose to act more sustainably. As a designer, I could have the opportunity to create new contexts which will afford citizens the opportunity act in more civil and sustainable ways.

        I too have questions about how these practice-based, human centered, collaborative design processes can be sparked. How do you encourage the government to support and back design projects of this kind?

        • Vic, Monica, Adrian, This is a super interesting thread and touches on an element of Social Practice Theory that we did not cover in our discussion section but I think is a critical insight – the time element. Social Practice Theory is an lens that seems particularly useful in the design context and a potentially effective place to look for leverage points. We discussed how practices are dynamic and being recreated each and every day through individuals and our actions in aggregate. However, as a design tool how can we incorporate the time element that something like decoding a social practice truly required? Do we need to do more longitudinal ethnographic studies? How does this work when you are on a six week deadline with a client? What is our responsibility to “monitor” or understand our impact on a practice with our design proposal during and after a project?

  8. I agree with Monica and Vic. Social Practice Theory seems to be one of theories I gravitate towards most so far in Transition Design. My group’s (Theora, Kenzie, and Chirag) wicked problem is Affordable Housing. We focused on the practice of “inhabiting” and what the expectations, values, etc. were surrounding it. We mentioned one expectation being that you move out of your parent’s house after high school and college. Then, you’re expected to rent your own place and buy you own house eventually. Chirag brought up that back home, is more of the norm to live at home while in college and that even parents want you to live at home forever after graduation/while working. I love these types of discussions because it reminds me that the values and assumptions we make sometimes are just about context.

    Then, for Dan’s mini exercise, we explore context a bit more. My group (Hajira and Silvia) had a great discussion around my behavior of “buying a frozen breakfast burrito at Entropy.” When listing out attitudes/values, we wrote “values convenience, values time…doesn’t value healthy meals. etc.”, but we hesitated on writing down “lazy” because we felt like it can fall into victim blaming. We agreed that designing and focusing on the context is what we should do (maybe CMU is a food desert?!). Dan Lockton’s lecture was very, very good. It’s a very practical way to think about things. Changing behavior is not just about changing attitudes or values, but also the context. As designers, we should try to keep this in mind.

    • I think my reply is pertinent to so many of the comments being made in this weeks thread. To bounce of Denise, we took a look at the practice of “inhabiting.” It was interesting that this exercise got us to explore even further into our wicked problem of Lack of Affordable Housing in PGH. We took a look at the social norms and expectations, values, and even went into the “tastes” of residents. To echo Denise further, it was interesting to begin to think of different cultural norms of housing and what is valued or normal. When we began to discuss a person’s taste, it really hit home the focus on attitudes and behaviors. The tiny house movement came up and we began to prod a little more at that. Exploring the attitudes of those adopting it, whether that be for monetary or lifestyle reasons, we began to actually wonder how people value or view “space.” This conversation in class was a great exercise to help us begin to dive deeper into our topic.

      Running with what a lot of the class is saying about Dan’s lecture. It was something that had been brought up in a variety of classes last week…Designing WITH people, not necessarily FOR people. The idea of allowing people to give feedback and including them in the design process gives a sense of empowerment and can create a stronger association with the design was one of the most powerful thoughts that Dan shared. Also, the thought that your behavior can be influenced by the context of people around you seems like a very intriguing space to explore in the design research and design process. Especially with larger social issues, thinking about what is happening around the world right now, and here in the US. It would be interesting to looking into the context and almost work backwards toward attitudes and behaviors.

      Overall, this week was really interesting!!

  9. Our group focused on the practice of putting a bicycle onto a bus. When thinking through this practice, we felt it was useful to role play the experience in our current day society. First, one signals to the bus driver that they are putting a bike on the bike rack in the front of the bus. Then, if the bike rack is already down, the rider may lift their bike onto the rack and secure it with a crossbar over the front or back wheel. When the rider exits the bus, again they must signal the bus driver that they are taking a bike off of the rack so that the bus doesn’t depart before the rider is able to do so.

    Although in this situation role play was useful in understanding this practice, in other contexts observation, interviews, and other qualitative methods of inquiry could be useful. I think this type of practice-based inquiry could be useful throughout the design process. In the beginning stages, practice-based inquiry could be useful in terms of thinking through general practices relating to the project. During concept development and prototyping stages, practice-based inquiry could shed light on how the concept/prototype would exist within existing practices. Evaluative and finalization stages could use practice-based inquiry to help inform how successful the design solution is in context.

    While role play, interviews, observation, and other qualitative methods are good ways of gaining understanding of practices, I do think more qualitative, non-verbal methods could be useful. Since practices are so embedded in everyday life, it is difficult sometimes to articulate them. Sketching, modelling, and other non-verbal methods of inquiry could be more appropriate.

    • I was in the same team and also agree on Delanie’s point that it is sometmes difficult to dissect everyday practices and diverse research methods are really helpful to better understand the practices. In that sense, Dan Lockton’s lecture and activity was useful to understand that not only context, but also attitude underlie and drive people’s behaviors in daily lives. It is definitely powerful tool to map out different drivers of practices.

  10. Manya Krishnaswamy February 26, 2017 at 7:09 pm Reply

    After reflecting on our class discussion and the exercise we did with Dan, I found social practice theory is a particularly powerful tool way to think about people’s behaviour that goes beyond the level of individual. As designers, our work often centres around changing people’s behaviour in some sense. Social practice theory helps us recognise that people’s behaviour are not only determined by the individual, but also by family, friends, neighbours, community, and so on. It gives us the starting point for understanding the root of why people do things the way they do and which circle(s) of influence is the biggest driver of this behaviour.

    Social practice theory would be useful when incorporated into design research across the design process, though with different intentions each time. It can give us insight into how people’s every day life and behaviour contribute to wider societal problems and unearth both potential opportunities for intervention as well as the scale at which the intervention ought to be.

    • I agree with what Manya said here. Social practice makes us think about the context for people’s behaviors and attitudes, so that designers can see a larger picture and not get lost in the narrow lens. After all, design is all about understanding the context. When other factors and forces are considered beyond individual level, the design solution might have greater and more sustainable impact.

  11. I group also tackled the topic of gentrification. It took us a long time to pick a particular practice as we had a hard time defining what a practice should be. We then engaged in a discussion with Gideon. Our group pointed out that we our selves are contributors to gentrification in Pittsburgh so a lot of the “negative” effects are actually positive for us in particular. We generally label gentrification as a negative thing, a problem, but for people like us, it is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about the context, which was what Dan focused on in the following class. So instead of looking at gentrification as a cause of all things bad, our group decided to simply focus on the before and after of gentrification through the lens of drinking coffee. Coffee before gentrification may have been more along the lines of a quick, cheap, necessity. But after gentrification, it becomes a high class, individualized, leisure activity.

  12. I found social practice theory very useful for designers to take action and initiate transition design. Although transition design is so much more than details and daily practices, without particular practice transition would not be sustainable and hard to complete.

    Dan’s guest lecture was very inspiring and reminded me one of our ongoing projects– Future Voices. Future Voices is a project mainly about introducing effective futuring tools to the community to inspire and empower people to imagine the future of their neighborhoods. Based on one our major founds during exploratory research– people feel irritated while the outsiders trying to tell them what to do and where to go. We naturally moved to a direction of co-design with local people. Just like what Dan mentioned in the class, it is helpful for designers to think about the solution of a design problem with dimensions of “context” and “attitude”, our current plan is to inspire people and change their attitudes to improve the context in the future and found this method very feasible.

  13. Like others have said, social practice theory, for me, is the most practical and profound topic related to transition design that I have yet encountered. In order to design for any sort of change, you have to understand where your control or system is located and related to other aspects of life and culture. I think there is great value in looking to other disciplines, most notably anthropology, for methodologies and processes involved in investigating social practices. The field has a long and rich history of studying practices within cultural contexts,

  14. I found Dan’s lecture very practical as well. To really designing “with people,” applying social practice theory into every step of our design process seems applicable as part of transition design. In our class exercise, we found lots of daily practice in our wicked map, which reflect the possibility of understanding and influencing people’s behavior. As we brainstormed around “How to get healthy food,” and talked about Blue Apron, questions were raised about the usability and credibility of the system. To understand Blue Apron’s value chain system, not only collaborating with the stakeholders within the system flow but also adopting and working “with” the other whom have a different mental model. Socal practice theory would be very helpful within that context because as Olivia mentioned, it already developed by “studying practice within cultural contexts.”

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  16. Michelina Campanella March 5, 2017 at 6:33 pm Reply

    This may be a bit Machiavellian of me, but to me social practice theory is not about individual behavior change, it is about creating systemic change that forces behavior change toward sustainability. In Dan’s lecture, he acknowledges the fact that the small design interventions like having a trashcan make a funny noise when you put trash into it is not addressing the larger problem of trash production. Not only that, but it is potentially dangerous to give people a sense that they are doing the right thing by putting things into the trash instead of littering, when in reality neither of these behaviors are sustainable.

    Designing new ways of living fundamentally requires changing our social practices, which will inherently make people feel uncomfortable and they will of course resist it. Designers want their solutions to be elegant and delightful and fit seamlessly into the lives of their users, but in the case of sustainability (which requires URGET and RADICAL transformation of everyday life) designing interventions into existing practices is not an option.

    To me, it is useful to understand Social Practice Theory to understand how radical systems level changes (like new energy practices, farming practices, political systems changes) will be adopted after they are implemented and where problems may arise. But to use social practices (or individual preferences) as a basis for making design decisions seems like traveling down the same path that lead to systemic global crises in the first place.

    • I absolutely agree with Michelina but I also think Social Practice Theory can be used as an invaluable research tool to validate assumptions of designers as well as users. I think dissecting social practices enables us to understand various belief systems and intrinsic motivators which drive peoples’ actions. To understand social practices one can use the old fashioned interview with well-crafted questions. Methods like fly on the wall, AEIOU framework and workshops can be used to extract social practices further from a user group. Personally, I think understanding social practices can be most useful during primary research where designers might be looking for useful insights and understand a problem space. Social practices can be especially useful to deduce frameworks to attack a problem space from an angle of social perception and behavior.

      • I agree with Vikas in the power of Social Practice Theory. I believe that every design research project must start by determining what practices are within it’s scope and build outward from there. Determining connected practices could involve putting yourself into the context of an activity (i.e., if you are researching public transportation, try taking the bus at different times of day, and observing how others are riding and what they are bringing with them) or examining cultural artifacts like movies and books that take place in this context. How are non-designers perceiving, romanticizing or altering these spaces through daily use or cultural fiction? Stated and unstated needs can be intuitively solved through social practice, and it’s up to the designers to make use of this information and break it down into components that could be better solved in more sustainable ways.

        Practices and the environments they exist in are self-reinforcing, and creating societal changes will require working at multiple levels of social practice – both with individual practitioners and the institutions which promote and develop practices.

      • I do agree with Michelina that Social Practice Theory is not about individual behavior change but I wonder if any social practice can have a direct behavior change towards sustainability. If bringing about change in mindset for a sustainable behavior is not as simple as applying Social Practice Theory and getting results. I understand that this theory is helpful to understand the complex problem. It also helps to brainstorm and look at it from various angles but I don’t think it encourages behavior change in people and their alters their mindsets.

  17. Dan’s lecture helped me finally understand how I can start to solve a complex wicked problem, albeit in a small way. I guess targeting people’s behaviors will prove helpful in solving any problem, since people are the root of all problems. However, I wonder if behavior is temporary and what we need to do is focus on changing mindsets, which can prove to be much much tougher. Social practice theory helps in finding what drives people, to be able to target them.
    Someone above has talked about involving people in the design process, and I am not sure about that. I agree that we should understand people completely to design solutions for them but am not sure we have to involve people in the process.

  18. Thank you everyone for bringing such great insights to the table. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend Dan’s lecture, but, thanks for sharing the snippets from his lecture. I feel it helped me quite a bit to grasp the practicality of the things we have been long discussing.

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