Fluidity and legitimacy: Designer as Minor Scientist

Aysar Ghassan, M. Blythe

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In the field of Human Computer Interaction, user experience research has been characterized in two camps, model-based and design-based. These groups have contrasting approaches to measurement and evaluation. Through spotlighting the areas of ‘reduction’, ‘re-prioritising’ and ‘following’, we argue that the model-based and design-based camps can be constructed in terms of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze & the psychotherapist and semiotician Felix Guattari’s royal science and minor science respectively. Via focusing on the commonly-used ethnographic method termed ‘cultural probing’, we argue that the relationship between Deleuze & Guattari’s philosophies of science provide insights into the nature of legitimacy within contemporary Human Computer Interaction research practice. Parallels exist between Deleuze & Guattari’s philosophies and the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’s concepts of bricolage and engineering. Design-based user experience research practitioners use the notion of bricolage to contextualize their practice. We find flaws with the use of Levi-Strauss’ philosophies of science in qualitative investigation for we argue his description of bricolage has been misinterpreted by influential researchers in this community. Rather than employing Levi-Strauss’ concepts, we propose that Deleuze & Guattari’s idea of flux is key to enabling the Human Computer Interaction community to contextualize trends and shifts in debates in user experience research practice. Accordingly, this paper calls for a re-evaluation of the use of bricolage as a means of contextualizing qualitative research practice and provides original insights into how the philosophy of technology is framed.
Publisher Statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Design Philosophy Papers on 17 Dec 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14487136.2016.1246832  

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-78
JournalDesign Philosophy Papers
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Design Philosophy Papers on 17 Dec 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14487136.2016.1246832


  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • royal science
  • minor science
  • Levi-Strauss
  • bricolage
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • user experience research


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