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Ergonomics as authoritarian or libertarian: reflections on Ward’s politics of design

Boudeau, C., Wilkin, P. and Dekker, S. W. (2013) Ergonomics as authoritarian or libertarian: reflections on Ward’s politics of design. Design Journal, 17 (1). pp. 91-114. ISSN 1460-6925

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To link to this item DOI: 10.2752/175630614X13787503070033

Abstract/Summary

Ergonomics is intrinsically connected to political debates about the good society, about how we should live. This article follows the ideas of Colin Ward by setting the practices of ergonomics and design along a spectrum between more libertarian approaches and more authoritarian. Within Anglo-American ergonomics, more authoritarian approaches tend to prevail, often against the wishes of designers who have had to fight with their employers for best possible design outcomes. The article draws on debates about the design and manufacturing of schoolchildren’s furniture. Ergonomics would benefit from embracing these issues to stimulate a broader discourse amongst its practitioners about how to be open to new disciplines, particularly those in the social sciences.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering > Healthcare Infrastructure
ID Code:32172
Publisher:Berg

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