Who Can Afford to Be Critical?: An Inquiry Into What We Can't Do Alone, as Designers, and Into What We Might Be Able to Do Together, as People (Paperback)
On the conditions and limits of critical thinking for design culture under capitalism
Design schools increasingly urge students to address social, political and environmental issues in their work. But who can afford to work in this way after graduation?
In a dynamic style that draws from multiple contributors, Who Can Afford to Be Critical? discusses the limits that affordability, class and labor impose upon the educational promise of holding a "critical" practice. Why do we tend to ignore the material and socioeconomic constraints that bind us as designers, claiming instead that we can be powerful agents of change? Instead of focusing on the dream of ethical work under capitalism, could we instead focus first on designers' own working conditions, as one immediate site for collective action? Over the course of four chapters, this publication delves into the modes of precarity in critical graphic work and possible paths toward emancipation from that position.