Social Justice-Oriented Interaction Design

Project Abstract: 

HCI, as a discipline, cares about issues of equity, fairness, and social justice as denoted by the attention of its scholarly works and its evolving dialogue on such topics. For example, with work from HCI and HCI-related disciplines, such ICT4D, Community Informatics, and Digital Civics, we can find celebratory projects meant to help people eat healthfully, tools that help ill-treated workers collectively act to improve their situations, and applications that help those with disabilities to have more equitable access to information (among many others). By social justice within design, I refer to how designers attend to the ways that people experience oppression and marginalization, including how burdens, obligations, power, benefits, and privileges have been unevenly distributed within society. When related to HCI, these concerns are often inclusive of how technology is designed, developed, and used; and how public policy impacts information and communication practices. Often this means that concerns of social justice focus on how oppression, such as racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, and so on, impact people’s experiences with technology, information, and design. Taking on a social justice perspective changes how designers engage in design situations, including who they partner with, methods of determining agreeable outcomes, and how designers might interrogate and ask questions of their design situations at hand. I focus on understanding how social justice concepts may be useful for designers in producing analytic traction in their own work.

Key Publications: 

Lynn Dombrowski. Socially Just Design and Engendering Social Change. Invited for Interactions Magazine. July-August 2017 Issue.

Lynn Dombrowski, Ellie Harmon, and Sarah Fox. (2016). Social Justice-Oriented Interaction Design: Outlining Key Design Strategies and Commitments. Proc. ACM conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2016). [DIS Best Paper Award] [Nomination Rate: top 1%; Acceptance Rate: 25%] [ACM 21st Annual Best of Computing]

Sarah Fox, Mariam Asad, Katherine Lo, Jill Dimond, Lynn Dombrowski, & Shaowen Bardzell. (2016). Exploring Social Justice, Design, and HCI. Workshop at CHI 2016 in San Jose, California, U.S.A., [Website:]