Emerging concepts of democracy in design in the 20th century

Cigdem Kaya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper presents an assessment of the literature on design for democracy in the 20th and early 21 st century. Seeking democracy while designing has been shaped by various political and sociological developments such as the internet, globalization and mass immigration. As a response to these radical changes in daily life, some designers developed low cost products for disadvantaged people as in 100 USD laptop project by Behar, while some designers focused on locality and sought local solutions for local problems as in EMUDE (Emerging Users Demands for Sustainable Solutions) of Politecnico di Milano. In other words, among many approaches, some approaches aim to serve the disadvantaged via traditional production while some are critical of the necessity of making more and more products.In this review, emerging sociological, political and technological phenomena will historically map simultaneously emerging design reactions in the 20th and early 21st century by discussing examples from Papanek to Pro-Am Revolution and their relationships with 'world issues' in a historical continuum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Activism
  • Democracy
  • Politics
  • Social Responsibility


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