A Preliminary Study on Design for Different Social Classes
In the 40 years since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy (the Chinese economic reform), China’s economy has developed at an unprecedented rate, and the social division of labor has become increasingly complex. As a result, Chinese society has discernibly diverged into a number of new social classes. As these newly emerged social classes continue to grow, their social impacts are becoming more significant. In addition, the existing social classes are undergoing continuous changes, as their values and lifestyles become increasingly differentiated; the structural gaps among classes have become wider. Consequently, people from different social classes have an increasingly poorer understanding of one another. Product and service designers are thus faced with the same problem, because they are no longer able to apply their own life experiences to identify with the needs of consumers from different social classes. Through teaching processes in a graduate course, this study attempts to explain the values and lifestyles of the new social classes in China with suitable theories and methodologies. This is done to investigate representative individuals of each class and to find the pain points that inhibit their lives in order to design products and services suitable for them.
KeywordsSocial differentiation Social class Illustration of representative individuals Product and service design
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