At the computational technology company called LTC, a large array of employees worked together to design the user experience (UX) of a variety of products. The empirical case study explores the relationship amongst the work of UX design, the work setting, and the larger strategic claims being made about the value, efficacy, and importance of design methods. The dissertation asks: How is the activity of design reflected and constructed by a local culture and material environment? By addressing the way designing occurs in a particular setting, the dissertation unpacks assumptions about setting and ideology within design studies and human-computer interaction. These assumptions impact the legitimacy of design as work, and challenge accepted justifications for the role of design in the development of technological artifacts. A better understanding of design work explores the proliferation of design as a general strategy for problem-solving, while questioning the agenda of this proliferation. The case study follows three accounts of UX design work at LTC. The research connects these accounts to theoretical concerns within design studies and HCI about agency, the setting of design, and the limits on design practice.
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