Social equality and design: User participation and professional practice

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Designs always claim to provide a benefit to mankind. However, in recent years, more social researchers and design professionals have questioned whether design can bring benefit to all. They criticise that design research and its outcomes most of the time only serve the majority of the people or those who can pay for the cost. Few designs cater to the needs of the minority, deprived and persons with disabilities. In other words, social equality cannot be illustrated and achieved by design as it claims. From 2000 to 2009, a series of inclusive research projects were conducted in Hong Kong. The projects included two major activities: in-depth investigations, and user-participatory design workshops. Researchers, professional designers and users actively participated in the research and design activities. This paper first reviews the fundamental function of design in that it should serve all, including persons with different capabilities. Taking everyday environments and products as case studies, this paper explores the relationship between professional practice and user participation. This paper advocates that good collaboration between professionals and users is the best way to accomplish social equality. Only applying user participation with professional coordination and facilitation can obtain high quality of designs which serve the needs of all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Design
  • Inclusive
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Professional Practice
  • Social equality
  • User participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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