Indigenous Principles Informing Social Design Practice in a Decolonized Framework

Andrea Navarrete rigo, Peter Hasdell

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Social design, as a practice to recognize and mobilize collective agency, aims to promote the use of design methods and tools to create new relations and relink broken connections between social and environmental aspects. It gives people the ability to envision different paths towards the construction of sustainable futures. However, if framed under unequal power dynamics and guided by imposed objectives, social design could be labelled as a neo-colonial practice. This paper explores indigenous knowledge and values and suggests these as an ontological framework to inform social design practices. On one hand, the principles of Buen Vivir, ‘good life’– an indigenous concept enacted by a collective force based on respectful relations and harmonious interconnections between all living forms – have the potential to advise and guide towards an alternative path for a sustainable development. On the other hand, Zapatista principles’ of Buen Gobierno, ‘good government’ – the seven principles inspired by the concept of ‘command by obeying’ establish a democratic political structure based on cooperation, autonomy, and respect – serve as an approach to reconfigure power dynamics and the hierarchical structure of collaboration within communities and design practitioners. Together Buen Vivir and Buen Gobierno provide a better understanding of social and material sensibility. Revising the application of these principles as ongoing experiences allow social designers to reconstruct their knowledge and praxis around decoloniality.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2021
EventFifteenth International Conference on Design Principles & Practices - University of Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico
Duration: 2 Mar 20215 Mar 2021
Conference number: 15


ConferenceFifteenth International Conference on Design Principles & Practices
Internet address


  • Social Design
  • Buen Vivir
  • Buen Gobierno
  • Decoloniality
  • neo-colonialism


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