Utopian, Molecular and Sociological Social Design
Ilpo Koskinen, Gordon Hush


The history of social design goes back several decades. Following Victor Margolin, we argue that the mainstream of social design has built on utopic visions of society that have had their roots variously in technology, architecture and politics. In this paper, we argue there are new forms of social design that are not utopic, but rather build on other premises. We distinguish two new forms, molecular social design and sociological social design. The former is happy to change society one step at the time without a larger vision. The latter builds on sociological theory to target the social structures that produce social inequalities and the practices that maintain them. Our example of molecular social design is Katja Soini’s IKE project in Helsinki, Finland The example of sociological social design considers the Design Innovation & Citizenship program in Glasgow, Scotland, and its engagement with a remote island community.

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