The limits of empathy: Utopianism, absorption and theatricality in design

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Journal Article
Design Journal, 2011, 14 (2), pp. 151 - 164
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In order to explain the premises and consequences of the current turn to empathy-Sr based design in its form as user- or human-centred design, this paper connects it with theUtopian tradition inherent in much of design's history. The paper also introduces two new concepts not normally associated with the field, 'absorption' and 'theatricality', to explain this history. It then goes on to locate empathic design within the category of 'absorption' and makes some conclusions about the social effects of this approach to design, arguing that empathy can be the source of what can be called 'tactical' design.
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