Ergonomics as authoritarian or libertarian: Learning from Colin Ward’s politics of design
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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.
The Design Journal
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