Social Means Do Not Justify Corruptible Ends: A Realist Perspective of Social Innovation and Design
Journal article, 2016
This article introduces designers to the dilemma that arises when twin aspects of social innovation—social means and social ends—do not align. Some academics have noted the anti-social, anti-political, and anti-inventive effects emerging from the spread of microfinance practices. We discuss the tendency for social design and innovation literature to focus on design processes rather than outcomes, and introduce ideas from realist political theory to account for the corruptibility of social innovations. We suggest that designers can prevent the corruption of social outcomes by shifting from idealist “what if” scenarios to realist “who whom?” questions instead.