n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Nomads at a crossroads (X-roads) : a framework for ethical design in South Africa

Volume 2008, Issue 14
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



In various discussions on design it is evident that the idea of competition is a central concern (Bonsiepe 2006 : 27, Buchanan 1985 :7, Lasn 2006 :14, Margolin 2007 :6). Owing to its rhetorical nature, design automatically fosters a culture of comparison and competition is merely its logical . Design frequently, if not primarily, deals with demonstrating to an audience that a single information product or brand is superior, and not just different, to another. This fact alone is not problematic. Design can often be used, however, to create a perceived hierarchy of difference where no actual hierarchy exists. This idea is perfectly sensible in a capitalistic culture, since competition and the creation of perceived difference are matters of economic survival. Nevertheless, the ethical implications of this competitive streak in design are clear when applied to the way cultures are represented in a complex communication context such as that of South Africa.

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