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A Socially Responsible Design to Rebuild Cultural Self-Confidence: A Case Study on the Design of a Village Revitalization Project

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This article presents a socially responsible design approach, through a remote mountain village’s revitalization project in Tongguan, Liping county in Guizhou province. The Village Revitalization Program (VRP) was initiated by the central government in response to many constraints that have resulted from China’s modernization over the past decades. Its objective was to protect these remote villages through maintaining their physical artefacts, sustaining their cultural essence and historical memories. Although various types of projects have been completed, the majority of them have brushed past the complicated byproducts of urbanization such as young generations leaving villages, children being left behind, rural hollowing out, etc., which have developed into a cycle threatening the sustainability of the community. This study diagnoses the critical issues neglected by previous revitalization approaches and initiates a new practice of socially responsible design to end the vicious cycle, achieved through rebuilding the cultural self-confidence of the villagers. From an operational perspective, this practice provides a three-step process: diagnosis, formulation and implementation. The new approach challenges the end-product-oriented method, questions the top-down approach and highlights the significance of direct involvement by end-users. From a theoretical perspective, this practice examines the various forms of socially responsible design and redefines the multiple dimensions that village revitalization projects should address. Following two years of effort by volunteers and villagers, the project was realized in the form of a Villagers’ Center in Tongguan. This product not only satisfies the interests of its current end-users in both the short and long term, but also provides an innovative, functional example of revitalizing values from within the village itself in order to rebuild the cultural self-confidence of villagers.
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Keywords: Dong minority; Guizhou province; Tongguan; cultural self-confidence; socially responsible design; village revitalization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of New South Wales 2: Guangxi Arts Institute 3: Social Responsibility Department, Tencent

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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