Engineers working internationally are increasingly concerned with the social impacts of their work. New frontiers in design show promise in helping practitioners address these concerns. One of these is codesign, a practice of making stakeholders co-decision-makers in the design process. Codesign has the potential to greatly improve the social sustainability of engineered products, but some concerns remain surrounding codesign’s practicability in engineering. I explore three such concerns: that conflicting institutional logics may undermine codesign’s collaborative aspirations, that codesign can perpetuate developmental idealism, and that codesign may insufficiently account for the needs and perspectives of marginalized populations. Through more than a year of ethnographic research, including dozens of interviews and hundreds of hours of observation, I examine the realities of codesign as it is carried out by a team of engineers in the Brazilian Amazon. I find that conflicting logics do undermine codesign at times, but that the engineers are still able to explore new tools and practices for socially sustainable engineering, even in times of codesign failure. I also find that the engineers are better equipped to respond to modernizing stakeholders than they are traditional ones. This may lead to the spread of developmental idealism and the further marginalization of disadvantaged groups.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wixom, Jacob Hartt, "Logics of Collaboration: An Ethnography of Codesign in the Brazilian Amazon" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8650.
codesign, institutional logics, development, engineering