Objectivation in design team conversation

Part of my work with the playable case study research team is to understand the design processes of the team itself. As part of that I (along with a couple of graduate students) decided to look at the team’s interactions through the lens of objectivation, a concept from sociological research that describes how people turn abstract thoughts into social objects they use to bring certain types of order and structure to their interactions. This is one of the most fascinating studies I’ve done. It was also one of the most intense. I’m very pleased with the results.


In this article we report our study of objectivation in the conversation of a design team. Objectivation is the practical work in which groups engage to produce social objects that facilitate orderly collaboration. We observed how design team members came to agree on specific details about an educational simulation they were designing, as they treated simulation features like independent social facts that could be affected by and have effects on other simulation features, and that had discrete benefits that made them an asset within the product. In our report we describe patterns of objectivation in their conversation that produced these results. We conclude by discussing how our study relates to, and enriches, the findings provided by prior design research.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive


McDonald, J. K., Bowman, K., & Elsayed-ali, S. (2021). Objectivation in design team conversation. Design Studies77, Article 101045. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2021.101045

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