Building Reflexivity Using Service Design Methods
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The transformative potential of service design rests on its ability to enable people to intentionally shape institutionalized social structures. To avoid simply reproducing social structures unconsciously, people need reflexivity—an awareness of existing social structures. Scholars suggest that the use of service design methods can enhance people’s reflexivity. However, the theoretical underpinning of this effect remains unclear, which in turn limits the realization of service design’s transformative potential in practice. In response, using an abductive approach that combines theoretical and empirical inputs, we develop an integrative framework that explains the mechanisms by which service design methods can increase people’s reflexivity. The current study contributes to the evolving service design discourse with an alternative categorization of service design methods, based on their affordances for different modes of reflexivity. The framework also reveals the underlying processes by which the use of service design methods can support people’s work with institutionalized social structures as design materials to enable transformation. This research supports a more thoughtful use and strategic development of service design methods to support transformative aims.