Understanding the Client Group's Cultural Practices and Beliefs

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‘Activism’ is a broad church. As our industrial economies and concurrent societies have metamorphosed into ‘post-industrial’, ‘consumer’ and ‘knowledge’ economies, expressions of activism have taken on more pluralistic forms, aided and abetted by information communication and technology (ICT) platforms, especially the internet.  Activists, that is those carrying out the activism, can belong to social, environmental or political movements that are localized or distributed, and that are based upon collective and/or individual actions (Tarrow, 2005). They can be defined as ‘Collective challenges [to elites, authorities, other groups or cultural codes] by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interactions with elites, opponents and authorities’(Tarrow, 1994)

The main undoing in this realization is the ignorance of the relationship featuring clients and employers who make the final decisions for the realization of designed product or service in the design activism discourse. Therefore as a design activist, understanding the client’s group history is important in ensuring that there is success in what you do. This directly means that there is need for the design activist to have a clear knowledge of the client group’s social, economic and cultural conditions. This knowledge is useful in understanding the contemporary needs of the group. With design activism riding over a range of fields, there is a complexity of dimensions that the same have to take. It is therefore important to list the complex dynamics that come with design activism (Heller and Kushner, 2005). These dynamics which cannot be overlooked include economical, cultural, social and ecological. These are important dynamics that any design activist in my place would consider.

It is from this understanding that as a design activist I will be able to focus on my client group from this platform of dynamism. Design activism to this end is respected as manifest of all the aspects of contemporary life. By analyzing the client group history, my training will be able to get the much needed results. This analysis is ideal in giving me the right expertise even in my grey areas.

The history of my client group is thus important in introducing products or services to them as they are the target market. This is akin to understanding contemporary activism; an idea that every design activist desires to get to.

Understanding the clients cultural practices and beliefs is important in identifying whether to sell to him, when to sell and how to market the same to him. The client groups’ social knowledge is also important to the activist. In designing what to sell the knowledge of client group’s education level, the age, the job they do and the social and occupational prestige enjoyed by the group is to be factored in. The economic dynamics of the client’s group requires the understanding the limitations caused by the level of income, the price of the commodity or service in relation to others as well as the price of the good or service relative to other related goods.

Empowerment and Self -Determination

In design activism, the idea of self-determination and empowerment are useful and necessary platforms that the design activists need to consider. The same needs to be highlighted in this study.

 Empowerment as a theory has been formulated primarily in the academy and thus made practical. There is need to understand this in a deeper sense. In essence it examines empowerment from consumers’ and social workers’ point of view. The findings of the same from past studies reveal the significance of empowerment from the perspectives of the different groups and identify differences among the consumer populations, as well as between consumers and social workers. The perceptions of consumers and social workers about empowerment provide deeper insights into and sharper formulation of this concept (Boehm & Staples, 2004). The empowerment notion can either be collective or personal in nature. However whichever design they take each of them is geared towards giving the consumer a say in making a choice on what to consume through constructive activism.

Self-determination goes hand-in-hand with the idea of empowerment. It involves giving independence to the consumer to settle for a choice without being controlled or limited to a particular choice. It is this same idea of self-determination that leads to empowerment.

As a design activist I understand that the need to make it is by allowing the client group to communicate their desire for change and understanding their perception of needs. This is in contrast to what I believe is my expertise way of design activism. This is the point at which I allow myself to act as a democrat and give a chance to the client group to freely share their point of view on matters relating to their consumption.

On this view I would argue that design activism is poised to face inadequacy if it fails to understand the context or displays ignorance of the all the dynamics involved. Design activism is hereby the most critical and above all contentious form of discourse, any lack of respect to the consumer’s aspects will result in inadequacy in the design profession in general. When this is fully understood, then a participatory approach will be fostered among the two main groups (Ozgur, 2016)

It is common for people to not only desire to obtain things, they also need the freedom to make things among which they can live and give respect to their own tastes, (Fuad-Luke, 2006). This is typical to involvement and inclusion which fosters a sense of identity on the client group.

Design Activist Role

As a design activist my role is to engage my client group as in my attempt to bring the desire for my products or services. My role is basically to guide them and sell to them the much desired fresh ideas in the market.

According to the analysis of Alastair Faud-Luke, ‘The real JOY of design is to deliver fresh perspectives, improved well-being and an intuitive sense of balance with the wider world. The real SPIRIT of design elicits some higher meaning. The real POWER of design is that professionals and laypeople can co-design in amazingly creative ways. The real BEAUTY of design is its potential for secular, pluralistic expression.

The real STRENGTH of design is this healthy variance of expression. The real RELEVANCE of design is its ability to be proactive. The real PASSION of design is in its philosophical, ethical and practical debate.’

I enjoy working with my client group due to the fact that they are always very interactive and share their views without any form of fear. They have brought the real expertise in me since they have taught me greatly as they share their desires. It is after analyzing what I hear from their point of view that I have been able to go a notch higher from my peers in the field. It has been easy to adapt the designs and creativity they bring forth. My client group has become a strong pillar in allowing me to deliver fresh perspectives. Here expression of views is the thing that drives us. Our approach as a team has become so practical and I have thus enjoyed engaging my client group with ease. The spirit of design activism is well articulated in the way I relate with the client group.

My client group’s has thus developed trust in me since they can air out their views and I take them seriously and act on them. I have made the group equal participants and we there is mutual trust between us.


Fuad-Luke, A. (2006) ‘Reflection, consciousness, progress: Creatively slow designing the present’, a keynote address given to the conference Reflections on Creativity, University of Dundee, UK, April, http://imaging.dundee.ac.uk/reflections/

Fuad-Luke, A. (2009) Design activism beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world. London: Earthscan.

Tarrow, S. (2005) The New Transnational Activism, Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

 Tarrow, S. (1994) Power in Movement: Collective Action, Social Movements and Politics,

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Ozgur D C (2016) Design activism from the past to the recent, Izmir Institute of Technology / Izmir / Turke

Heller, S. andKushner, T. (2005) Design Activism: The Design of Dissent: Socially and Politically Driven Graphics, New york

October 24, 2023

Business Science

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