Design a symbolic violence: Addressing the ‘isms’

Design embeds ideas in communication, artifacts, services and spaces in subtle and psychologically powerful ways. Feminist, class, race and indigenous scholars and activists describe how oppressions (how patriarchy, racism, colonialism, etc.) exist within institutions and also within cultural practices. The theory of symbolic violence sheds light on how design can function to naturalise oppressions and then obfuscate power relations around this process. Through symbolic violence, design enables the exploitation of certain groups of people and the environment they (and ultimately ʻweʼ) depend on to live. Design functions as symbolic violence when it is involved with the creation and reproduction of ideas, practices, processes and tools that result in structural and other types of violence (including ecocide).