Ethics in design and issues of social class: reflecting on the learning unit: Design and the Construction of Class Distinction



Product & Industrial Design

The second year Design Studies learning unit “Design and the Construction of Class Distinction” (BA Communication Design, Industrial Design, University of Johannesburg) introduces students to definitions of social class in terms of capitalism (Olin-Wright 2008, Goldthorpe 1980, Crompton 1998, 2003) as well as to Bourdieusian concepts of habitus, field and capital (Bourdieu 1989; Weininger 2005, Bennett, et al 2010; Jenkins 2003; Grenfell 2003).

Re-representation: Addressing objectifying media portrayals of women in South Africa



Media & Communications Design

Objectification imparts harm to women and sets a detrimental precedent for self-objectification. This is particularly true for young women who are seeking information to assist them in the process of identity construction. Experimental studies indicate that objectification in media causes negative body esteem, an unnecessary drive for thinness, eating disorders and related psychological problems. Globalised media trends emphasise and value women for their physical appearance. These trends de- personalise women, depict them as objects to be gazed at, and style them as decorative, rather than a person with a mind, aptitude, intellect, personality and a ‘voice’.

Problematic motifs: portrayals and identity construction of women in visual consumer media



Photography, Film & Multimedia

Considerable  criticism  has  been  levelled  at  problematic  visual  portrayals  of  women  in  consumer  and  popular media.  Current  Western  media  landscapes  feature  images  of  women  that  engender  problematic  ‘narrow’ identity constructs – marginalising agency and intellect, promoting physical idealisation, sexual objectification, and commodification  – and, as such,  reproduce  patriarchal  discourse.  Despite  the rise of feminism  and the resultant  increased  awareness   of  and  advances  in  the  area  of  gender  equality,  stereotyped   images  of sexualised,  objectified  and  idealised  women  seem  to  persist  globally  and  in  South  Africa.  Images  exert discursive power and have the ability to shape people’s identities, beliefs, and behaviour.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers

Design Educators of South Africa...

With your support & active membership, the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa can positively influence the young designer's formative training and promote all facets of design across Africa