Design for dialogue / social innovation book

Communities in many parts of the African continent have often experienced significant social discontinuity. In the case of South Africa social disfranchisement was occasioned by religious and political practices in the past, and more recently by structural economic policies. This paper explores the potential of Design for Sustainability (DfS) to promote social equity and cohesion by encouraging broad participation in the life of a historic town known as Genadendal in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The methodology adopted is interpretivist in nature as the study seeks to embolden the community’s voice on matters impacting upon the (potential) sustainability of their livelihoods.

The unique blend of socio-cultural, religious and political history makes Genadendal a unique context for interrogating latent social innovation at a time when the residents are grappling with the challenges of redefining their identity in a manner that promotes a true sense of belonging locally, yet simultaneously allowing for engagement with a wider global audience. Of particular relevance is the pivotal role of the youth in fostering resilience in this creative process of collaborative redesign. The central aim of this paper is to explore the critical role that design can play in promoting a sustained multi-actor dialogic dynamic that transcends the initial community-based tourism project to buttress other pertinent expressions of ‘social homeostasis’.

The Design for Dialogue research has been included in the 2012 book, Social innovation and sustainability | Local development, entrepreneurship and design by Prof Roberto Bartholo and Dr Carla Cipolla. This publication contains material that emerged from the INOVABR Social Innovation and Sustainability seminar which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2010. It is developed into four themes, with the first unpacking theoretical paradigms of social innovation, the second synthesises the relationship between social innovation and development at a local level, the third positions social innovation relative to entrepreneurial and socio-economic developments, and the last provides an overview of the context influences during the INOVABR event. The book, which is currently only available in Portuguese, can be purchased through THIS retailer.