Design fiction is a term first coined by Julian Bleecker and popularized by SF author Bruce Sterling, who describes it as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” and that it “attacks the status quo and suggests clear ways in which life might become different.”
Design fiction isn’t science fiction, it’s not just a telling of stories in the future or trying to make predictions of the future, instead it is a way of trying to envision and interrogate possible futures based on research data, current trends, and/or technologies. Originally, primarily used by product designers as a cheap alternative to prototyping new products, it has found traction as a critical tool allowing us to see through the fog of hype and digital evangelism.
In this event Tim Maughan introduces design fiction for sociologists. He discusses the work he is undertaking with Sava Saheli Singh (New York University) and its possible implications for how we write about research.
Keith Kahn-Harris will discuss his new project which looks at how kinds of mainstream texts other than science fiction also generate ’social science fictions’, often ‘accidentally’ as a result of the pragmatic requirements of generating workable plots and scenarios. Such texts can help force attention to a neglected sociological question: what are the limits of possibility in human society?
Sarah Burton will discuss the use of literary techniques within critical theory, thus interrogating (apparent) disciplinary demarcations set in place. Focusing on literary techniques of the fantastic, Sarah will demonstrate how these can be usefully employed in sociology writing to question dominant ideologies and praxis.
Les Back and Mark Carrigan will each offer a short response before the event is opened up for a general discussion.