Practice-oriented Design for Lifestyle Change: Trialling as a Means of Enabling Transition
thesisposted on 01.01.2014 by Brett Leber
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
Over time, our lifestyles accrete habits and become more rigid. Major life events tend to provide opportunities for reflection and change, but are infrequent. When looking at a problem like commuting — the health, environmental, and economic effects of the majority of commuters driving alone — we tend to see big yet difficult solutions: changes in infrastructure and policy (like more convenient bus routes, more separate bike paths, and more expensive gas), it is often argued, will convince us to try something else. But other ways of enabling lifestyle change are possible. This thesis is an exploration of the potential for small-scale, design-enabled experimentation in daily life to lead to change — not only in incremental behaviors but in more significant practices (recognizable, routinized patterns of behavior, embodied in the things we do and say — ways of commuting, for instance). By drawing on social practice theory, recent work on practice-oriented design, and service design, I explored how trialling different ways of commuting can enable practice transition — from driving alone to biking, walking, carpooling, or taking public transit. The output of this work was two complementary service offerings, one of which I evaluated within the context of a local organization, as well as the furthering of a dialogue on what it means to perform practice-oriented design.