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Reimagining service design in plurality: Towards cultural sensitivity

Type of project
Centre for Connected Care (C3)
01.09.2019 -> 01.09.2022

This project has been completed

About the project

This project aims to build an understanding of service design to help design practitioners building the cultural sensitivity and investigates how an emerging conception of cultural plurality can be used in order to both offer a more inclusive and respectful narrative of the complexity of culture and to reimagine the boundaries of service design in plurality. 

Key aims and questions
Zhipeng’s PhD project explores the capability of service design in relation to culture. The study problematizes the current dominant view of service design which risks enacting a single cultural interest in different contexts.

Analytical framework
The PhD project will involve three types of practice in cultural plurality:
1) service design practice of other practitioners in phase 1
2) “informal” designing service practice in phase 2 and
3) service design conducted by myself in phase 3.
The investigation of three research questions consists of three phases, which build on each other to achieve the overall study aim of re-imagining service design in cultural plurality (See figure below).

Key concepts
Culture plurality and Decolonization

Research methodologies and methods
Phase 1 will begin with a systemic investigation on the current relationship between service design and cultural plurality, based on multiple data sources from literature and interviews with service design practitioners. In phase 2, Zhipeng will conduct ethnographic research to explore how informal designing practice in cultural plurality can feed service design. The findings in phase 1 and 2 help understand the dominated discourse and the alternatives of service design related to the plurality. These endeavours and theoretical outputs will support Zhipeng’s service design practice to critically reflect on service design in cultural plurality.

In phase 1, service design practitioners will be engaged to understand how they confront the culture in practice. Then, in the ethnographic research and service design practice, the participants are expected to be actors in healthcare systems, including patients, doctors, nurses, technology providers and administrative personnel in the healthcare system. The healthcare network will be engaged through the supports of the Centre for Connected Care (C3), a Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI), supported by The Research Council of Norway.

Research outcomes
The outcome of this PhD project is article-based, and the thesis will be completed in the form of compilation.

Assoc. Prof. Josina Vink